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Genial Editor—Richard Wilson, D.Litt. 


Uniform with this Book 

No. 1. Prose . Edited by A.J. J. Ratcliff. 

No. 2. Biography. Edited hy Lord David Cecil. 

No. 3. Drama. Edited by S. R. Littlewood. 

No. 4. Poetry. Edited by Robert Lynd. 

No. 5. Memoirs. Edited by F. W. Tickner. 

No. 6 . Nature Writing. Edited by Henry Williamson. 
No. 8. Fiction. Edited hy Frank Swinnerton. 

No. 9. Animal Writing. Edited hy Frances Pitt. 


Edited by 

H. M. Tomlinson 

London Edinburgh Paris Melbourne 
Toronto and New York 

First fuitiski, October 1$ 

AV^ruNU VVL<JC,i;VjriViJC,.N i Q 

Thanks are due and are hereby tendered to the follow¬ 
ing publishers and authors for permission to use the 
extracts given in this book: Messrs. George Allen and 
Unwin, Ltd., for “ The Land of Journey’s Ending ” by 
Mary Austin; Miss Stella Benson for “ The Little 
World ”; Messrs. William Blackwood and Sons, Ltd., 
and Mrs. Candler for “ The Mantle of the East ” by 
Edmund Candler; Messrs. Geoffrey Bles, Ltd., for 
“ Falmouth for Orders" by A. J. Villiers; Messrs. 
Jonathan Cape, Ltd., for “ The London Perambulator ” 
by James Bone, “ Winged Victory ” by V. M. Yeates, 
“Death in the Afternoon” by Ernest Hemingway, 
“ Spanish Journey ” by Julius "Meier-Graefe, “ Arabia 
Deserta ” by Charles "M. Doughty, and “ A Chinese 
Mirror” by Florence Ayscough; Messrs. Cassell and 
Co., Ltd., for “ Indian Aar ” by Paul Morand; Messrs. 
Chapman and Hall, Ltd., and Sir W. Beach Thomas for 
“ A Traveller in News ”; Mr. Apsley Cherry-Garrard for 
“ The Worst Journey in the World ”; Sir Hugh Clifford 
for “ In Court and” Kampong ”; Messrs. R. Cobden- 
Sanderson, Ltd., for “ The Bonadventure ” by Edmund 
Blunden; Messrs. Constable and Co., Ltd., for “ Mont 
Saint Michel and Chartres ” by Henry Adams; Messrs. 
J. M. Dent and Sons, Ltd., for “ Idle Days in Patagonia ” 
by W. H. Hudson; Messrs. Gerald Duckworth, Ltd., 
for Aurora la Cujini, from “ Charity,” by R. B. Cun- 
ninghame Grahame; Messrs. Faber and Faber, Ltd., for 
“ A Superficial Journey through Tokyo and Peking ” by 
Peter Quennell; Mr. Ashley Gibson for “ Cinnamon and 
Frangipanni ”; Mr. Stephen Graham for “ New York 
Nights ” ; Messrs. William Heinemann, Ltd., and Mrs. 
Frieda Lawrence for “ Sea and Sardinia ’’ by D. H. 
Lawrence, and Messrs. Heinemann and Mr. Tomlinson 
for “Gifts of Fortune ”; Messrs. Martin Hopkinson, 


Ltd., for “ X700 Miles in Open Boats ” by uecn roster ; 
Mr. Aldous Huxley for " Beyond the Mexique Bay " ; 
Mr. A. W. Lawrence fox" 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom ” 
by T. E. Lawrence; Messrs. Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 
and Mrs. Hardy for <<e Ttue Return of the Native " by 
Thomas Hardy ; Messrs. Methuen and Co., Ltd., for 
On Going Abroad, from" The Money Box/' by Robert 
Lynd ; Messrs. Janies Nisbet and Co., Ltd., for “ More 
Changes, More Chances''' by H. W. Nevinson ; Mr. 
Frederick Niven fox" Canada West"; Messrs. Putnam 
and Co. for Beneath Tropic Seas" by William 
Beebe; The Richards Pross for Cape Horn Calm , from 
“ A Tarpaulin Muster,” by John Masefield ; Messrs. 
Martin Seeker, Ltd., for ^'Fountains in the Sand " by 
Norman Douglas; Mr. A. F. Tschiffely for “From 
Southern Cross to Pole Star" ; and Mr. S. E. White for 
" The Land of PootprLnts. " 





North o’ Euston .... 


Egdon Heath .... 


In the Bay. 


The Virgin of Chartres 


Clouds over France, 1918 . 


Aurora la Cujini .... 


The Bull Ring .... 


Spanish Dancers .... 






East Africa. 


. 1 





• 73 



West Africa. 


Among the Beduins . 


War in the Desert 


Open Boats in the Indian Ocean 




Angkor, a Pilgrimage . 

A Night of Terror 

A Chinese Ridge-Pole . 


The Japanese Stage . 


The Southern Ocean . 

The Sheep Shearers 

Winter in the Antarctic 


Cape Horn Calm .... 


In Patagonia. 


The Upper Amazon . 


The Peruvian Coast . . , 

















* m 



Lake Titicaca.203 


No-Man’s-Land Five Fathoms Down 208 

On the Ship . 


Cactus Country . 


Those United States . 


Canada West . ... 228 


Downtown New York. . . . 243 


On Going Abroad.248 


(a) Localities.257 

(b) Authors and their Books .... 259 

. 212 

- 215 

. 221 



It was dangerous for a man to sleep in the light 
of the full moon, it used to be thought. His mind 
would he touched. The moon got at it. On 
waking he would be another fellow, retaining his 
unprofitable dreams with his eyes open. And 
men have been lost through going after music 
they fancied they heard, something piped in the 
distance, when nobody else could hear a sound. 
No wise warning would stop them. They went, 
and were lost to their friends. It is necessary to 
point out, in this foreword, that a good narrative 
of travel may have the same effect on us as the 
moon or distant music. We have to he on our 
guard. An anthology from stories of travel could 
not do it, but, meaning no harm, it might quote 
from a book and name it, and that book could 
work the spell, if a reader went to it and were a 
likely subject. 

Should we hear the call of those far pipes, the 
trouble is that doubts vanish. We forget then 
that Pan is dead, or else believe we were mis¬ 
informed about it. The horns of elfland change 
the consequence of immediate reality. Off we 
go, unless held back. The enchantment will fade, 
it is almost certain, if we are held back long 
enough; though whether that is good or bad for 
us I do not know. When a boy, I read an enticing 



nf travel by a man who was once a factor for 
udson Bay Company, but I was held back, 
nstance can be almost as hard and faithful 
restraining tombstone ; and anyhow, it is 
Lsy and never was to find a ship bound for 
>n’s Bay, and harder still to board her. So 
•e not yet reached the Canadian Barren 
id ; the Great Lone Land, it was also called, 
y look at those names ! The map of that 
., I must confess, has others as good, and 
>till retain for me a faint trace of their old 
, whenever I see them ; and I saw one again 
ecently. It was in a letter. A young lady 
to me, and her address at the time 'was a 
beyond the Arctic Circle, in the land of the 
ox. She greatly surprised me. How did 
ach that point beyond the outposts ? Such 
mey would take most of the brief spring 
rmm er of the Northland, and if a traveller 
not out of it again before winter shut the 
he might be imprisoned till doomsday, 
ret it seemed this lady had leisure there in 
to read a book of mine, and was constrained 
me know it, so little did the prospect of the 
l journey through desolation trouble her. 
ned why in a postscript. She was flying 
as usual. One flies there and back now. 
fly there had never occurred to me. Such 
lers in northern Canada as Back, Heame, 
rnzie, and Warburton Pike were in my mind, 
hey had not flown, but had their work cut 
knew. A deal of the attraction of that al- 
inaccessible spot by the shore of the frozen 
as the long and difficult journey thither, by 
and dog-sledge. Pike, in his book about his 


travels there, quoted an Indian’s question to a 
missionary, who had been trying to get the native 
to understand the attractions of Heaven: “ And 
is it like the land of the musk-ox in summer, when 
the mist is on the lakes, and the loon cries very 
often ? ” But one flies there now, and thus its 
enchantment fades. Its light dims; or for me at 
least the colours of its aurora borealis are not 
what they were. 

And, now we have mentioned the aeroplane, 
even while this anthology was being garnered a 
flight from London to Cape Town was made in 
less than four days. Yet that extraordinary feat 
roused but little excitement, and the adventurer 
himself, though he spoke of his machine, hardly 
mentioned Africa. Perhaps he gave Africa no 
thought, being superior to it, except as a distant 
guide for his controls." How different was the day 
when Stanley’s Through the Dark Continent was 
published! That caused enough excitement. 
Africa then was really dark, and he had traversed 
it by taking one step after another. This occupied 
more than four days ; and as for Africa, he was 
forced to know the full flavour of it. His book is 
almost forgotten now—nobody, as far as I know, 
ever called it a good book of travel—but on the 
day of its publication the brown stacks of it at 
Mudie’s were besieged. I could not get near it for 
a week. 

No book of travel will ever again rouse that 
interest. Though Dr. Beebe of New York should 
go down in his windowed steel globe to the very 
oceanic ooze, and spy legions of sea-serpents, we 
should be unmoved. Our wonder has gone. The 
day of triumph has arrived ; the curiosity of man 




has conquered the wild. Earth, we are told, has 
no more occult places. Men in a machine have 
soared over Everest. Even the secret ravines of 
Prester John’s kingdom have been bombed and 
gassed. What more is there for us to do ? It 
was in the year 1900, or thereabouts, that the 
explosive engine began to expedite the exploration 
of the world, and brought the long task to a 
speedy close; and this little anthology of mine 
is confined to the writers of so revolutionary a 
century. We have, in about a third of it, gone 
farther from Richard Hakluyt than was he from 

Richard Hakluyt tells us that, when a scholar 
of Westminster, “ that fruitful nursery,” he had 
a half-holiday to spend, and visited his cousin, 
a Gentleman of the Middle Temple. At that time, 
some years were to go before Drake would begin 
his circumnavigation. Richard, at his cousin's 
place, found “ lying open upon his board certaine 
bookes of Cosmographie, with an universall 
Mappe.” He confessed to curiosity, and thereupon 
his cousin instructed his ignorance, and pointed 
with a wand “ to all the knowen Seas, Gulfs, Bayes, 
Straights, Capes, Rivers, Empires, Kingdomes, 
Dukedomes, and Territories of ech part . . .” 
and advised the Westminster boy of much else, 
in particular directing attention to the 107th 
Psalm. It was then that young Richard resolved 
to " prosecute that knowledge and kind of litera¬ 
ture, the doores whereof (after a sort) were so 
happily opened before me.” 

That visit, in fact, settled for him the joyous 
work of his life, the English Voyages. The year 
of his resolve to testify to the work of English 




navigators was not much more than half a cen¬ 
tury after the Cape of Good Hope had been 
rounded, opening a new way to the Far East ; and 
the discovery of America. We see now that more 
than the writing of a history of travel was 
prompted that afternoon; the building of an 
empire was about to begin. Hakluyt foresaw that, 
and fervently desired it. He well understood his 
enterprising and energetic countrymen. “ It can 
not be denied,” he says, “ but as in all former 
ages, they have been men full of activity, stirrers 
abroad, and searchers of the remote parts of the 
world.” In his day very certainly they were all 
that, and more. In due season the Spanish 
Armada was scattered. Later still, after coasts 
had been claimed and colonies settled everywhere, 
there was the invention of the steam-engine and 
various navigational instruments, each of which 
contributed to the discovery and the charting of 
obscure seas and lands ; and with them came also 
the Industrial Revolution and its commercial 
travellers, the force of which is still far from 

Here we are, after an advance so bewilderingly 
rapid in this century that Darwin, Livingstone,. 
Bates, Wallace, Bruce, though only Victorians, 
are but names to this generation. Bates gave so 
many years to the Amazon that it was easier for 
him to speak Portuguese than English when he 
came borne. Men were more leisurely then, when 
on their travels. They did not fly, but we ought 
to admit that they did get to understand their 
subjects—it took some time—and left records so 
worthy that some of their books are not yet dis¬ 
placed by an improved prose. You will see herein, 



and without a strict examination, that we diffe 
now not only from Hakluyt’s vigorous speech oi 
its simple physical plane, but from the standarc 
established for us in the next century, our classica 
English prose, though it is said to be archaic now 
like the English Bible of 1611 which is set to its 
measure. I should like to know what Hakluyt, 
who rejoiced in the direct statements of seamen, 
could make of the following passage, which is from 
a journey in the clouds by Mr. Beirne Lay, 
published in a recent Harper's Magazine. 

“ The mechanic yanks the chocks out and I press 
the fat of my hand against the knob-headed throttle. 
The propeller bites into the air and starts the P-6 
rolling across the concrete ramp. It trundles along 
evenly on its rubber tires and tailwheel until it 
reaches the edge of the field. The rough spots jar 
me up and down in my seat. The ship is out of its 
element. It waddles along like a clumsy duck, wings 
wabbling back and forth. I can’t see very well with 
all that nose up in front, so I weave slightly and 
crane my neck to peek outside the windshield and 
along the sides of the fuselage, looking out for bad 
places or other ships. Hold it, you goof 1 ” 

That passage certainly shows we have something 
to say which is known only in this age. Yet if we 
look at it again we see it is not so far from Hakluyt 
as at first we supposed. A helmsman, when his 
barque was driving with more canvas than he 
enjoyed while the seas following his ship were 
ominous, might have expressed a similar sensation 
though in other terms. It concerns only the 
senses. I suppose a palaeolithic hunter, after he 
had dared to let fly at a mammoth, but was not 
sure the monster was finished, felt the same 
apprehension, and afterwards explained the in- 

( 4 , 297 ) 6 


cident just as dramatically by the fire in his cave. 
Prose is good which gives no more than that 
vivacity ; and perhaps that is the most we should 
expect from a narrative of travel; it is enough to 
prompt us to make the journey with the writer. 

The truth is, steamships, aeroplanes, wireless, 
all the machines which have so changed our ways 
of life, have changed us but little. They have 
altered the look of the world, and much more than 
we like, and brought places within reach which 
were all but inaccessible. We hear each other 
speak across intervening continents and oceans; 
but usually we do not hear news of greater im¬ 
portance from ten thousand miles away than we 
could get across a garden fence. . We have at last 
laid bare the mystery of earth’s superfices, and 
now that is done we have come to the beginning, 
much to our surprise, of a far greater task. 

We have surveyed all the earth ; and now, what 
are we going to do with it ? Young people, who 
regret that the description Unknown has dis¬ 
appeared from maps, and that exploration is done, 
should know they may now begin, and the sooner 
the better, on a far more difficult journey than 
faced Drake when he set out from Plymouth on 
his circumnavigation. We have ended the rough 
pioneering work on the earth. It is necessary to 
discover now the best use to make of it. That 
means an exploration of the mind; and it will be 
long before we reach Ultima Thule there. What 
possibilities are involved in that voyage of dis¬ 
covery are fairly clear from the debates and con¬ 
fusions which at present afflict humanity. This 
problem will require from those who may under¬ 
take it at least as much fidelity to a noble purpose, 

(4,297) 7 2 


the courage to hold on when the horizon is hope¬ 
less, and quite definitely far more exact knowledge, 
than Columbus took with him when he boarded 
the Santa Maria at Palos. The physical plane 
alone will give no sure support any more. The 
materialistic basis will serve only as a starting 
point. And without doubt our language will 
be extended to a new capacity and potency. 

We begin anew. That should give vivacity at 
least to our prose of travel. But it will give more 
than that. Some indication of the possibilities 
show, I hope, here and there, in the following 
pages. All of it is from writers of this century. 
All is modem. It begins, in the first extract, at 
Euston, and in a way which certainly suggests 
there is something in our own familiar streets that 
is challenging and mysterious, and even sinister 
to a mind becoming aware of hidden latencies. 
Then we see Egdon Heath, the prospect of our 
original nurture, in prose as stately, yet with 
meanings between the lines, as any we have had 
since Shakespeare was busy. 

There is no system in this anthology, except 
that it begins at home, crosses to Europe, and then 
proceeds eastward round the world till it is back 
in its own place again. It is partial; that was 
in its nature; some writers are not in it who 
should have been. But its brief glimpses of the 
world as it is are enough, maybe, to show that 
exploration has only begun, and that our equip¬ 
ment for what lies ahead of us must be of a nature 
that was not in Hakluyt’s dreams. 

H, M. Tomlinson. 


North o’ Euston 

In modem life the great railway stations are tjie 
City gates. Here are gathered much of the sad¬ 
ness and misery, the joy and fulfilment of exist¬ 
ence, the suspense and hopes and hates and loves 
that the eye confesses at last as the train steams 
out or in. Strangers from afar are welcomed face 
to face; men on adventurous errands go out as 
through sally-ports (what a sally-port to eternity 
was Victoria Station from 1914 to 1918!); the 
handkerchief waves for an instant, but that is the 
only pennon, and we do not see them grow to 
pigmies as they troop over the plain. At these 
gates of the modem city people arrive and depart 
at full stature. The Great arrive in their noiseless 
trains; a carriage door opens and there, large as 
life, stands a king or the head of a Republic; 
the band plays its eight bars of music while the 
Great shake hands with the Great and the military 
guard stiffens for inspection. Five minutes later 
and it is all over and the station is on the move 
again and ordinary passengers are swarming into 
their trains. It is all so sudden, so life-size, so 
soon over that it seems as unreal as the white- 



painted coal on the tender of the State train. And 
to the sensitive onlooker this air of unreality 
touches all the station happenings : the meetings 
looked forward to so eagerly by flaming hearts, 
the farewells of the old with the young, the last 
words said. In a few minutes the platform is 
empty but for a few porters and old ladies asking 
about trains. If the scenes of strong human 
emotions were really haunted by the shades of the 
actors, what dense assemblies there would be on 
every railway platform ! 

Some emanation of the tragic, or at least of the 
sinister side of the drama of coming and going, 
hangs about the neighbourhood of the great 
railway termini. It is potently present round 
Waterloo with its shabby confusion of railway 
arches and rows of dark little houses lying in 
ambush in its intricacies, its second-rate music- 
hall rendezvous, and a peculiar South London 
blight near the river suggesting wharfland. It 
is present in a particularly romantic form at 
Fenchurch Street Station—in a shop at the corner 
you can buy Malay Self-Taught —that half-secret 
station tucked away from any thoroughfare, with 
a little lagoon of a yard before its dingy front, 
where some days no cab can penetrate because 
of the bodies of shivering lascars waiting silently 
with their belongings for the order to mount the 
stairs and take train to their ships at Tilbury. 
Fenchurch Street Station’s dark roof resounds 
less than it did to the final bitternesses of sailors 
and their women, but there are still more voices 
raised in anger here than in other London stations. 
At night, when the City shops are shuttered 
and the streets deserted, this station sometimes 



splutters with life and song and oaths and sailor 
men’s cries. But the emanation thickens to a 
cloud in the region behind the three great termini 
in Euston Road, that may be called, for conveni¬ 
ence’ sake, North o’ Euston. 

King’s Cross lurks within a sort of stableyard, 
its campanile with the clock, too, having a 
domestic look, like the feature of a stable of a great 
house. It seems the right place for the Flying 
Scotsman to bear away in reserved compartments 
carefully selected people on the nth of August. 
St. Pancras is like a cathedral to an unknown saint 
—called St. Pancras for the moment—raising the 
whole skyline of the north with Gothic outlines 
and its nobly spanned interior, whose great height 
reduces trains and people to something like per¬ 
forming mice in a cage. But best of all as a work 
of imagination is Euston, with its tremendous 
granite Doric portal, by which Hardwick recog¬ 
nized Euston as London’s Gate. How the lights 
of London sparkled in the old days as one drove 
through it in one’s first London hansom ! How 
its shadow fell as one drove back! What a 
setting was the gigantic portal to the dreams of 
young men who had come to London to seek their 

But the region round Euston does not suggest 
the young man seeking his fortune at all. All 
great railway stations surround themselves with 
a sort of debatable land that is neither residential, 
commercial, industrial, trading, nor theatrical. 
It has shabby hotels and makeshift lodgings, 
bawdy houses, pawnbroker’s shops, second-hand 
dealers in all sorts of articles from muddy mock- 
ermine furs to rings of rusty keys. A strange 



temporary look hangs about the place as though 
the denizens were always packing up, many of 
them moving on, and moving on too quickly to 
pack up, and the place was organized for im¬ 
mediate disposal of their goods. The only touch 
of new paint is where a new pseudonym has been 
lettered on the front of a shabby hotel. A strange 
sort of conflict seems to be waging all the time up 
and down these streets with routs and forays as 
though London was defending itself against these 
adventurers and trying to drive them back into 
the stations and away, and the needy folk were 
making a last stand. 

Another fancy one has in North o’ Euston is of 
strangers who sought London not as a land to con¬ 
quer but as an asylum. Police reports show that 
every year a large number of the petty criminals, 
fraudulent tradesmen, shopmen who have falsified 
books, and clerks who have embezzled, and all 
sorts of criminals through weakness flee to London 
to escape justice, and many who have taken their 
punishment to escape further shame. Do many 
of them when they come out of their station and 
see the rush and turmoil and spacious, incoherent 
metropolitanism of Euston Road recoil abashed, 
settle down in the hinterland of the stations, 
marry and breed furtive little children in these 
furtive streets ? Doubtless the people North o’ 
Euston are as honest as people elsewhere, but that 
is the effect of much observation and cogitation 
there. It is a queer region, with a population that 
moves much at night, and its streets of two-storey 
houses with forlorn gardens with broken iron 
railings, and secret-looking tiny squares and courts 
entered through archways containing a hamlet 


with higgledy-piggledy tiny gardens with wash¬ 
ings hung out to dry, and oversized public-houses. 
Even the dead do not belong to the district, but 
came there by chance, for the obscure graveyard 
of St. James’s that is so hard to find is packed with 
bodies that were carted up half a century ago from 
St. James’s Churchyard, Piccadilly, when their 
lairs were wanted for a new restaurant. Their 
tombstones, incommoded and alien, are ranged 
round the walls, depreciating this unfashionable 
site for Piccadilly tombstones. I wonder if any 
of the broken men of the region who eat their 
luncheons here in the summer have a fellow- 
feeling for these tombstones. “ Gentleman ” is 
the description cut on many. 

The most furtive, and in its way the most 
sinister spirit of the region, resides, I think, in a 
dingy crescent with a shallow convex curve and 
a distant echo of gentility in its arched windows 
and faint glimmer that tells of stucco beneath its 
grime. Its small houses are divided and sub¬ 
divided among many tenants, but it is curiously 
quiet at night, with naked lights here and there 
behind curtainless windows. It is an uncanny 
experience to strike this crescent in a winter’s 
dawn when killing time waiting on an overdue 
train at the station. I remember well striking the 
place on one such aimless itinerary. The crescent 
seemed to curve endlessly on and on in its shabby 
symmetry, each number looking more mysterious 
and sinister than the last with the dawn and the 
gaslight discovering its discoloured face. Sud¬ 
denly behind me I heard shambling footsteps. I 
looked back, but by the curve of the crescent 
could see no one, and as I went on with the steps 



of the unseen figure getting closer and closer, it 
was like an ugly dream that would never end. In 
this mood, with the mind seeking for something 
tangible to give substance to my obsession of the 
night, my thoughts fastened on a gigantic demi- 
jar over the fascia of a shabby shop that had once 
been a drysalter’s. It seemed a symbol of the 
mystery and abominable menace one sensed in the 
locality as though the genie of the region waited on 
the appointed day to be unsealed and discharge 
his malignity against the honour of the City. In 
the morning I had forgotten it all, but the vision 
came back again this summer when the inquest 
was held on the body of a famous man of learning 
full of years and honours, who, arriving in London 
one night for a family wedding, dined at a railway 
hotel, strolled out for an hour into these streets 
and met shame and death; a great light in the 
world of knowledge went out in guttering smoke. 
It was this and other disasters to honour rather 
than the Camden Town Murder with its relation 
to the railway stations and the night-life around 
them that seemed to express the measure of dingy 
horror that lurks in the region. 

And what fiction-writer would be bold enough 
to introduce such an incident as this ? 

It might have happened to any one hurrying to 
work in the dreary Euston morning, but it was a 
policeman on his rounds who noticed a man’s 
finger with a cheap ring upon it impaled on a spike 
on the top of a gateway. The relic was taken to 
Scotland Yard Museum, where the finger-print 
experts identified it as belonging to a notorious 
ex-convict. A week later a man was arrested at 
Elephant and Castle as a pickpocket. He asked 


how he could pick pockets with a hand like that, 
showing a heavily bandaged hand. At the police 
office he was found to have lost a finger, and his 
finger-prints were found to agree with the severed 

Modern Art with its perfect instinct for the 
expressive was bound to come to North o’ Euston, 
and in due course the Cumberland Market School 
was evoked in which Walter Sickert, from its 
anxieties, its ennui, its sordid makeshift bed¬ 
chambers, its ugly wallpapers and hard brittle¬ 
faced public-houses, distilled and decanted an 
essence that will preserve it all for future genera¬ 
tions when all that one connotes as North o’ 
Euston has gone. It is going steadily as the 
rebuilding goes on ; it will some day be untenable 
for the discouraged and needy population that 
camp round the great stations like a rabble round 
the city gates who have lost the password. 

The London Perambulator. i02<i. 



Egdon Heath 

A Saturday afternoon in November was ap¬ 
proaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract 
of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath em¬ 
browned itself moment by moment. Overhead 
the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out 
the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath 
for its floor. 

The heaven being spread with this pallid screen 
and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their 
meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. 
In such contrast the heath wore the appearance 
of an instalment of night which had taken up its 
place before its astronomical hour was come: 
darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, 
while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking 
upwards, a furze-cutter would have been inclined 
to continue work; looking down, he would have 
decided to finish his fagot and go home. The 
distant rims of the world and of the firmament 
seemed to be a division in time no less than a 
division in matter. The face of the heath by its 
mere complexion added half an hour to evening; 
it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden 


noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely 
generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless 
midnight to a cause of shaking and dread. 

In fact, precisely at this transitional point of its 
nightly roll into darkness the great and particular 
glory of the Egdon waste began, and nobody could 
be said to understand the heath who had not been 
there at such a time. It could best be felt when 
it could not clearly be seen, its complete effect 
and explanation lying in this and the succeeding 
hours before the next dawn : then, and only then, 
did it tell its true tale. The spot was, indeed, a 
near relation of night, and when night showed 
itself an apparent tendency to gravitate together 
could be perceived in its shades and the scene. 
The sombre stretch of rounds and hollows seemed 
to rise and meet the evening gloom in pure 
sympathy, the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly 
as the heavens precipitated it: And so the 
obscurity in the air and the obscurity in the land 
closed together in a black fraternization towards 
which each advanced half-way. 

The place became full of a watchful intentness 
now; for when other things sank brooding to 
sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and 
listen. Every night its Titanic form seemed to 
await something; but it had waited thus, un¬ 
moved, during so many centuries, through the 
crises of so many things, that it could only be 
imagined to await one last crisis—the final over¬ 

It was a spot which returned upon the memory 
of those who loved it with an aspect of peculiar 
and kindly congruity. Smiling, champaigns of 
flowers and fruit hardly do this, for they are 



permanently harmonious only with an existence 
of better reputation as to its issues than the pres¬ 
ent. Twilight combined with the scenery of 
Egdon Heath to evolve a thing majestic without 
severity, impressive without showiness, emphatic 
in its admonitions, grand in its simplicity. The 
qualifications which frequently invest the facade 
of a prison with far more dignity than is found in 
the facade of a palace double its size lent to this 
heath a sublimity in which spots renowned for 
beauty of the accepted kind are utterly wanting. 
Fair prospects wed happily with fair times ; but 
alas, if times be not fair! Men have oftener 
suffered from the mockery of a place too smiling 
for their reason than from the oppression of 
surroundings oversadly tinged. Haggard Egdon 
appealed to a subtler and scarcer instinct, to a 
more recently learnt emotion, than that which 
responds to the sort of beauty called charming 
and fair. 

Indeed, it is a question if the exclusive reign of 
this orthodox beauty is not approaching its last 
quarter. The new Vale of Tempe may be a 
gaunt waste in Thule: human souls may find 
themselves in closer and closer harmony with 
external things wearing a sombreness distasteful 
to our race when it was young. The time seems 
near, if it has not actually arrived, when the 
chastened sublimity of a moor, a sea, or a moun¬ 
tain will be all of nature that is absolutely in 
keeping with the moods of the more thinking 
among mankind. And ultimately, to the com¬ 
monest tourist, spots like Iceland may become 
what the vineyards and myrtle-gardens of South 
Europe are to him now; and Heidelberg and 


Baden be passed unheeded as he hastens from the 
Alps to the sand-dunes of Scheveningen. 

The most thorough-going ascetic could feel 
that he had a natural right to wander on Egdon : 
he was keeping within the line of legitimate 
indulgence when he laid himself open to influences 
such as these. Colours and beauties so far sub¬ 
dued were, at least, the birthright of all. Only- 
in summer days of highest feather did its mood 
touch the level of gaiety. Intensity was more 
usually reached by way of the solemn than by 
way of the brilliant, and such a sort of intensity 
was often arrived at during winter darkness, 
tempests, and mists. Then Egdon was aroused 
to reciprocity; for the storm was its lover, and 
the wind its friend. Then it became the home of 
strange phantoms; and it was found to be the 
hitherto unrecognized original of those wild 
regions of obscurity which are vaguely felt to be 
compassing us about in midnight dreams of flight 
and disaster, and are never thought of after the 
dream till revived by scenes like this. 

It was at present a place perfectly accordant 
with man's nature—neither ghastly, hateful, nor 
ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning, nor 
tame ; but, like man, slighted and enduring ; and 
withal singularly colossal and mysterious in its 
swarthy monotony. As with some persons who 
have long lived apart, solitude seemed to look 
out of its countenance. It had a lonely face, 
suggesting tragical possibilities. 

This obscure, obsolete, superseded country 
figures in Domesday. Its condition is recorded 
therein as that of heathy, furzy, briary wilder¬ 
ness—" Bruaria.” Then follows the length and 



breadth in leagues; and, though some uncer¬ 
tainty exists as to the exact extent of this ancient 
lineal measure, it appears from the figures that 
the area of Egdon down to the present day has 
but little diminished. " Turbaria Bruaria ”—the 
right of cutting heath-turf—occurs in charters 
relating to the district. “ Overgrown with heth 
and mosse,” says Leland of the same dark sweep 
of country. 

Here at least were intelligible facts regard¬ 
ing landscape—far-reaching proofs productive of 
genuine satisfaction. The untameable, Ishmael- 
itish thing that Egdon now was it always had 
been. Civilization was its enemy ; and ever since 
the beginning of vegetation its soil had worn the 
same antique brown dress, the natural and in¬ 
variable garment of the particular formation. 
In its venerable one coat lay a certain vein of 
satire on human vanity in clothes. A person on 
a heath in raiment of modem cut and colours has 
more or less an anomalous look. We seem to want 
the oldest and simplest human clothing where the 
clothing of the earth is so primitive. 

To recline on a stump of thorn in the central 
valley of Egdon, between afternoon and night, 
as now, where the eye could reach nothing of the 
world outside the summits and shoulders of 
heathland which filled the whole circumference 
of its glance, and to know that everything around 
and underneath had been from prehistoric times 
as unaltered as the stars overhead, gave ballast 
to the mind adrift on change, and harassed by 
the irrepressible New. The great inviolate place 
had an ancient permanence which the sea cannot 
claim. Who can say of a particular sea that it is 


old ? Distilled by the sun, kneaded by the moon, 
it is renewed in a year, in a day, or in an hour. 
The sea changed, the fields changed, the rivers, 
the villages, and the people changed, yet Egdon 
remained. Those surfaces were neither so steep 
as to be destructible by weather, nor so flat as to 
be the victims of floods and deposits. With the 
exception of an aged highway, and a still more 
aged barrow presently to be referred to—them¬ 
selves almost crystallized to natural products by 
long continuance—even the trifling irregularities 
were not caused by pickaxe, plough, or spade, but 
remained as the very finger-touches of the last 
geological change. 

The above-mentioned highway traversed the 
lower levels of the heath from one horizon to 
another. In many portions of its course it over¬ 
laid an old vicinal way, which branched from 
the great Western road of the Romans, the Via 
Iceniana, or Ikenild Street, hard by. On the 
evening under consideration it would have been 
noticed that, though the gloom had increased 
sufficiently to confuse the minor features of the 
heath, the white surface of the road remained 
almost as clear as ever. 

The Return of the Native. 1878. 



In the Bay 

My theory of repentance during the first few days 
at sea was to be fact. At the start, I seemed to 
myself to be perfectly steady. The breeze blew 
cold; I thought it even pleasant; and without 
over-exercise I took my last views of English 
coasts, and watched ships ahead of us blackly 
smudging a vaporous sky. I attended dinner, 
and began to swell with vanity. 

By this time the ship was rolling (after all 
yesterday’s kind assurances). There was no mis¬ 
take about it, and my vanity and observation 
were at once cut short by a surprise attack of sea¬ 
sickness. A dismal cowardice came on me. The 
wind seemed changing, or perhaps—I inquired 
but little—the course of the ship; the effect 
needed no inquiry. Time and again, lowering my 
morale at each arrival, the seas beat in a great 
crash upon the ship’s sides, and, with the atten¬ 
dant tilt, the scarcely less welcome seethe of the 
waters flowing down the decks would follow. The 
ship seemed to be provided with cogs on which 
she was raised and lowered with horrible deliberate 
jolts over a half-circle: then again, the big wave 


would jump in with a punch like some giant Fitz¬ 
simmons. My experience was growing. The sun¬ 
shine died off the porthole ; the breeze was half 
a gale already, droning and whining louder and 
louder ; and I felt that my breaking-in was to be 
thorough enough. 

Captain Hosea found time, now and then, to 
look at his passenger. We kept up eloquent dis¬ 
course, though I was handicapped. The origin 
of species and the riddle of the universe are topics 
on which much enlivening debate may occur, and 
certainly did then ; but the floor of the debating 
society should be made steady and not to lift and 
lean and recover with a monstrous jerk as a point 
is being approached. “ It’s fierce,” said he, refer¬ 
ring to the idea of infinite abyss. I could agree 
from the smaller one which I myself seemed to be 

Sleep was not easy during these early hours of 
my holiday. I spent an awkward night or two 
listening to rattlings of all sorts, the battering-ram 
shocks of the seas, and the thump of the engines; 
watching the sweat on the rivets of my roof roll 
like the bubble in a spirit-level, and my towel float 
out to an apparent unperpendicular side to side. 
In this state of things I easily came to know the 
features of my cabin, described on the door-key 
as “ spare cabin port.” Amidships it was, between 
the wireless operator’s premises and the captain’s. 
The porthole faced the poop and, more immed¬ 
iately, the ship’s squat funnel. Beneath the port¬ 
hole, a padded seat was fixed : and I had on one 
length of the room a disused radiator, a chest of 
drawers and a washstand with mirror, where, 
despite a ventilator above, light rarely seemed to 
(*.2«) 23 3 


come. On the opposite length there were a tall 
malodorous cupboard and two bunk beds, of 
which I chose the lower one from sound instinct 
at the beginning, keeping to it from force of habit 
afterwards. Such was my dwelling ; but I must 
not fail to mention the electric light and fan. The 
place was painted white, but its past use as a store 
had variegated it. 

The steward likewise visited me here, and sym¬ 
pathized. The old fellow talked to me much as if 
I had known him all my life ; he being known well 
enough, indeed, to the company for whom he was 
going to sea in his old age. A scarred nose distin¬ 
guished him for a time. He complained, with a 
sort of personal visualization of the sea’s boorish¬ 
ness, that while attending to some stores he had 
been blown off a case into a barrel of flour. 

Having therefore spent the best part of my first 
two days at sea in my cabin, which offered no great 
variety in itself, I was much pleased to find myself 
able to arise, manfully, the third day. But I 
avoided breakfast. The morning looked inviting, 
the black funnel gleaming even richly in the sun, 
so presently I took the air. First, I had found 
some difficulty in shaving, even with a safety 
razor ; but it was accomplished. 

We were still in the Bay of Biscay, and the Bon- 
adventure had not done lurching and wallowing. 
To my naive eye, the sea was in considerable 
commotion. Like ever-changing rocky coasts, 
the horizon rose and fell. As unsteady as that, 
the day left behind its sunny comfort and brought 
clouds and chillier air. I saw the navigators 
passing on their business, but I could not emulate 
their equipoise; I attached myself to a rail or 


fixture to watch them, this one coiling a rope, that 
trailing a coco-nut mat in the sea—a capital 
cleanser ; to watch the gulls also, so easily keeping 
up with the plunging bows, amid all their side¬ 
shows of wheeling and darting flights. Inured, 
I presently joined in at dinner in the saloon ; ate, 
and had no serious trouble. A framework, which 
was described as a “ fiddle,” covered the table 
and checked the more mobile crockery; but it 
could not prevent an accident in the steward’s 
own department, which caused his tone of private 
feud with Neptune to sound clearly in the apos¬ 
trophe, " Break ’em all, then, so we shall have 
none for the fine weather.” But fine weather was 
expected now. 

The Bonadventure. 1922. 




The Virgin of Chartres 

We must take ten minutes to accustom our eyes 
to the light, and we had better use them to seek 
the reason why we come to Chartres rather than 
to Rheims or Amiens or Bourges, for the cathedral 
that fills our ideal. The truth is, there are several 
reasons; there generally are, for doing the things 
we like; and after you have studied Chartres 
to the ground, and got your reasons settled, you 
will never find an antiquarian to agree with you; 
the architects will probably listen to you with 
contempt; and even these excellent priests, 
whose kindness is great, whose patience is 
heavenly, and whose good opinion you would so 
gladly gain, will turn from you in pain, if not 
with horror. The Gothic is singular in this; 
one seems easily at home in the Renaissance; 
one is not too strange in the Byzantine; as for 
the Roman, it is ourselves; and we could walk 
blindfolded through every chink and cranny of 
the Greek mind; all these styles seem modern, 
when we come close to them; but the Gothic 
gets away. No two men think alike about it, 
and no woman agrees with either man. The 


Church itself never agreed about it, and the 
architects agree even less than the priests. To 
most minds it casts too many shadows ; it wraps 
itself in mystery; and when people talk of 
mystery, they commonly mean fear. To others, 
the Gothic seems hoary with age and decrepitude, 
and its shadows mean death. What is curious to 
watch is the fanatical conviction of the Gothic 
enthusiast, to whom the twelfth century means 
exuberant youth, the eternal child of Words¬ 
worth, over whom its immortality broods like 
the day ; it is so simple and yet so complicated ; 
it seems so much and so little ; it loves so many 
toys and cares for so few necessities; its youth 
is so young, its age so old, and its youthful yearn¬ 
ing for old thought is so disconcerting, like the 
mysterious senility of the baby that: 

Deaf and silent, reads the eternal deep. 

Haunted forever by the eternal mind. 

One need not take it more seriously than one takes 
the baby itself. Our amusement is to play with 
it, and to catch its meaning in its smile; and 
whatever Chartres may be now, when young it 
was a smile. To the Church, no doubt, its cathe¬ 
dral here has a fixed and administrative meaning, 
which is the same as that of every other bishop’s 
seat and with which we have nothing whatever 
to do. To us, it is a child’s fancy ; a toy-house to 
please the Queen of Heaven—to please her so 
much that she would be happy in it—to charm 
her till she smiled. 

The Queen Mother was as majestic as you like ; 
she was absolute; she could be stem ; she was 
not above being angry; but she was still a 


woman, who loved grace, beauty, ornament—her 
toilette, robes, jewels; who considered the ar¬ 
rangement of her palace with attention, and 
liked both light and colour; who kept a keen eye 
on her Court, and exacted prompt and willing 
obedience from king and archbishops as well as 
from beggars and drunken priests. She protected 
her friends and punished her enemies. She 
required space, beyond which was known in the 
courts of kings, because she was liable at all times 
to have ten thousand people begging her for 
favours—mostly inconsistent with law—and deaf 
to refusal. She was extremely sensitive to neglect, 
to disagreeable impressions, to want of intelligence 
in her surroundings. She was the greatest artist, 
as she was the greatest philosopher and musician 
and theologist, that ever lived on earth, except 
her Son, Who, at Chartres, is still an Infant under 
her guardianship. Her taste was infallible; her 
sentence eternally final. This church was built 
for her in this spirit of simple-minded, practical, 
utilitarian faith—in this singleness of thought, 
exactly as a little girl sets up a doll-house for her 
favourite blonde doll. Unless you can go back to 
your dolls, you are out of place here. If you can 
go back to them, and get rid for one small hour 
of the weight of custom, you shall see Chartres in 

The palaces of earthly queens were hovels 
compared with these palaces of the Queen of 
Heaven at Chartres, Paris, Laon, Noyon, Rheims, 
Amiens, Rouen, Bayeux, Coutances—a list that 
might be stretched into a volume. The nearest 
approach we have made to a palace was the Mer- 
veille at Mont-Saint-Michel, hut no Queen had a 


palace equal to that. The Merveille was built, 
or designed, about the year 1200; toward the 
year 1500, Louis XI. built a great castle at Loches 
in Touraine, and there Queen Anne de Bretagne 
had apartments which still exist, and which we 
will visit. At Blois you shall see the residence 
which served for Catherine de Medicis till her 
death in 1589. Anne de Bretagne was trebly 
queen, and Catherine de Medicis took her standard 
of comfort from the luxury of Florence. At 
Versailles you can see the apartments which the 
queens of the Bourbon line occupied through their 
century of magnificence. All put together, and 
then trebled in importance, could not rival the 
splendour of any single cathedral dedicated to 
Queen Mary in the thirteenth century ; and of 
them all, Chartres was built to be peculiarly and 
exceptionally her delight. 

One has grown so used to this sort of loose 
comparison, this reckless waste of words, that 
one no longer adopts an idea unless it is driven 
in with hammers of statistics and columns of 
figures. With the irritating demand for literal 
exactness and perfectly straight lines which lights 
up every truly American eye, you will certainly 
ask when this exaltation of Mary began, and 
unless you get the dates, you will doubt the facts. 
It is your own fault if they are tiresome ; you 
might easily read them all in the Iconographie de 
k Sainte Vierge, by M. Rohault de Fleury, 
published in 1878. You can start at Byzantium 
with, the Empress Helena in 326, or with the 
Council of Ephesus in 431. You will find the 
Virgin acting as the patron saint of Constantinople 
and of the Imperial residence, under as many 


names as Artemis or Aphrodite had borne. She 
was the chief favourite of the Eastern Empire, 
and her picture was carried at the head of every 
procession and hung on the wall of every hut 
and hovel, as it is still wherever the Greek 
Church goes. In the year 610, when Heraclius 
sailed from Carthage to dethrone Phocas at 
Constantinople, his ships carried the image of 
the Virgin at their mastheads. In 1143, just 
before the fl&che on the Chartres clocher was 
begun, the Basileus John Comnenus died, and so 
devoted was he to the Virgin that, on a triumphal 
entry into Constantinople, he put the image of 
the Mother of God in his chariot, while he himself 
walked. In the Western Church the Virgin had 
always been highly honoured, but it was not until 
the crusades that she began to overshadow the 
Trinity itself. Then her miracles became more 
frequent and her shrines more frequented, so that 
Chartres, soon after 1100, was rich enough to 
build its western portal with Byzantine splendour. 
A proof of the new outburst can be read in the 
story of Citeaux. For us, Citeaux means Saint 
Bernard, who joined the Order in m2, and in 
1115 founded his Abbey of Clairvaux in the terri¬ 
tory of Troyes. In him, the religious emotion of 
the half-century between the first and second 
crusades (1095-1145) centred as in no one else. 
He was a French precursor of Saint Francis of 
Assisi who lived a century later. If we were to 
plunge into the story of Citeaux and Saint Bernard 
we should never escape, for Saint Bernard incar¬ 
nates what we are trying to understand, and his 
mind is further from us than the architecture. 
You would lose hold of everything actual, if 


you could comprehend in its contradictions 
the strange mixture of passion and caution, the 
austerity, the self-abandonment, the vehemence, 
the restraint, the love, the hate, the miracles, and 
the scepticism of Saint Bernard. The Cistercian 
Order, -which was founded in 1098, from the first 
put ail its churches under the special protection 
of the Virgin, and Saint Bernard in his time was 
regarded as the apple of the Virgin’s eye. Tradi¬ 
tion as old as the twelfth century, which long 
afterwards gave to Murillo the subject of a famous 
painting, told that once, when he was reciting 
before her statue the “ Ave Maria Stella,” and 
came to the words, “ Monstra te esse Matrem,” 
the image, pressing its breast, dropped on the lips 
of her servant three drops of the milk which had 
nourished the Saviour. The same miracle, in 
various forms, was told of many other persons, 
both saints and sinners; but it made so much 
impression on the mind of the age that, in the 
fourteenth century, Dante, seeking in Paradise 
for some official introduction to the foot of the 
Throne, found no intercessor with the Queen of 
Heaven more potent than Saint Bernard. You 
can still read Bernard’s hymns to the Virgin, and 
even his sermons, if you like. To him she was 
the great mediator. In the eyes of a culpable 
humanity, Christ was too sublime, too terrible, 
too just, but not even the weakest human frailty 
could fear to approach his Mother. Her attribute 
was humility; her love and pity were infinite. 
" Let him deny your mercy who can say that he 
has ever asked it in vain.’’ 

Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres. 1919. 




Clouds over France, 1918 

Having finished his pipe, Tom strolled up to the 
hangars. The fruit trees were just beginning to 
show awareness of the possibility that even in 
1918 there would be spring. The orchard would 
look very pretty in another six weeks, and he 
hoped he would still be there to see nature’s 
annual tricking out for the pageant of summer. 
It was soothing to behold the complete indif¬ 
ference of the rest of natural things and processes 
to the tumults and thuddings and trumpetings 
of men; a devastating comment or no-comment 
upon the church-and-press war clamour. And 
men returned the same frankly by being blindly 
indifferent to everything except the system erected 
to meet their passioned interests of the moment. 

The squadron occupied for its officers' mess one 
side of a square farm building which enclosed a 
yard full of animals and dung. It was quite 
picturesque, the low stone fa$ade roofed above 
with old red-brown tiles. There was a plain 
doorway in the centre, and on each side two 
windows, giving light to the dining-room and the 
ante-room. They were comfortable quarters. 


There was a huge fireplace in each room and a 
supply of toasting forks. Of course there was a 
bar, and it was usually well stocked. 

In the bams which formed two sides of the 
courtyard there were kept three ridable horses 
that had got used to the row of the aeroplanes, 
and would trot about the countryside. Tom, 
who had no sort of seat, was out on one of these 
beasts one afternoon, and some silly ass, flying 
low overhead, let off his machine guns, attacking 
the target at a ridiculous angle that would send 
bullets ricochetting all over France. The nag could 
not put up with it, and bolted for home. Tom 
hung on, expecting each heavenward lurch to end 
the partnership, seeing himself with one foot 
caught in the stirrup having his brains bashed 
out on the ground. But somehow he was still 
in the saddle when the horse stopped with a jerk 
in front of his stable door. He could not but 
admire the animal’s sound instinct in bolting 
for home on hearing machine-gun fire, but 
decided he would keep to safer than equestrian 
amusements ; flying, for instance. 

The pigs were indistinguishable from English 
pigs, except for a greater pungency of odour, 
which was not their own fault. The cows, how¬ 
ever, were less ladylike than English cows. Tom 
missed that air of placid and spinsterish chastity 
that make English cows and women so irritating 
to bulls and men. The chickens, too, had not 
been hatched in the protestant tradition, and 
lacked moral grandeur. Nevertheless farming 
seemed to pay in France. 

Having read the first hundred and twenty-four 
pages of La Terre, Tom thought he knew some- 


thing about French peasants, and was always 
hoping to catch some glimpses of delightful 
Zolaesque sordidness. So far he had failed. They 
seemed quiet, hard-working, orderly, polite. On 
week-days they worked from dawn till dusk, the 
women in the fields with what men there were. 
Unlike Gray’s friends they did not drive their 
team afield jocund, but wrapped in impassable 
blankness. No tricks of aviation could amaze 
them. Even a near whizz of bullets left them 
unmoved as they worked within a hundred yards 
of the ground target. At the most they gazed 
with monumental stolidity; so they would gaze 
at an angel sounding the trump of doom on a 
week-day. Their massive continental plough- 
horses were very like them. 

Y looked all right. They pulled her out and ran 
the engine. The guns were ready for loading, and 
when Tom pulled up the CC gear handle it stopped 
up. There was a little sideways play on the stick 
to be taken up. The seat was comfortable, the 
timepiece functioned, the engine gave its revs. 
Tom dressed and took it up. The sky had clouded 
over and there was quite a wind blowing from 
west of south-west. At ten thousand feet there 
would be a strong west wind; the sort that took 
one over Cambrai in a few seconds and made the 
xetum journey seem like half an hour, with Archie 
taking full advantage of one's difficulties and 
turning the sky black. It probably cost about 
five hundred thousand pounds for Archie to bring 
down a two-thousand-pound aeroplane ; but that 
did not matter; it was das Krieg. 

It climbed well, and in a minute reached the 
cloud layer, which was at fifteen hundred feet. 



After a few preliminary obscurings he was involved 
in the grey deleting mist. The world had gone ; 
dissolved into intangible chaos. Nothing had 
form except the aeroplane and himself and 
perhaps that queer circular ghost of a rainbow 
that sat in the blankness in front. Every motion 
had ceased, for all the roaring of the engine. 
Nevertheless, he knew by experience that in this 
no-world it was necessary to keep the pitot at 
eighty or more, and the joystick and rudder 
central, or bad sensations as of dizzy flopping 
would follow. The mist grew darker. He put 
his head in the office and flew by the instruments. 
He kept the speed right, but he could feel that all 
was not well, without being able to tell what 
might be wrong. The mist brightened. He came 
suddenly into sunshine. A cloudless blue vault 
of sky arched over a gleaming floor of ivory rocks. 
It was all around him in the twinkling of an eye, 
and the grey chaos away in another universe, a 
million light years or a few feet distant. The two 
spheres were as close together and as far apart 
as life and death. He saw that he was flying with 
unintentional bank. 

The bright glare of uncontaminated space and 
the cold purity of the air had their usual exhilarat¬ 
ing effect. He performed several rolls and con¬ 
torted in nameless rudder-kicking spasms that 
spun the sky and cloud-floor jerkily about; and, 
satisfied that Y was not likely to fall to pieces, 
he dropped to the floor and contour-chased over 
its shining hillocks and among its celestial ravines. 
This was not the majesty of cumulus, with its 
immitigable towering heights and golden threaten¬ 
ing ; its soul of fire and shadow; pile on pile of 


magically suspended gleaming dream-stuff ; glory 
of vision and splendour of reality; shapeless 
splendour of form ; empty solidity ; fantastic, 
mutable, illusory as life itself. This was the level¬ 
floating rain-cloud, a layer only a few hundred 
feet thick, that makes the earth so dull a place 
when it eclipses the sky, and concentrating all 
dullness there, leaves the region above it stainless, 
and very like conventional heaven. On those 
refulgent rocks should angels sit; like them 
insubstantial, glowing like them. Music should 
they make with golden wires, unheard ; hymning 
the evident godhead of the sun, from whom the 
radiance flowed of those immaculable spaces: 
wings faintly shimmering with faint changing 
colour, and unbeholding eyes. In that passionless 
bright void joy abode, interfused among cold 
atoms of the air. Breath there was keen delight, 
all earthly grossness purged. 

He raced over the craggy plain, now dropping 
into glens, now zooming up slopes, leaping over 
ridges, wheeling round tors. Sometimes he could 
not avoid a sudden escarpment, and hurtled 
against the solid-seeming wall that menaced him 
with destruction : he would hit it with a shockless 
crash that expunged the wide universe; but in a 
flash it was re-created after a second of engulfing 
greyness. And when he had played long enough 
in the skiey gardens, he would land on a suitable 
cloud. He throttled down and glided into the 
wind along the cloud surface, pulling the stick 
back to hold off and get his tail down. He settled 
down on the surface that looked solid enough to 
support him, but it engulfed him as he stalled, and 
the nose dropped with a lurch into the darkness 


and almost at once he was looking at the collied 
world of fields and trees and roads. It was like 
a bowl coming up round him. He pulled out of the 
dive and looked about in the dimness to discover 
where he was. He recognized a railway and the 
railhead of Achiet-le-Grand. He headed north¬ 

The disadvantage of coming out of the clouds 
in a vertical dive was that there might be some 
one flying just below one’s point of emergence, 
and in that case disaster would be complete. 
The chance was nearly infinitesimal perhaps, but 
Tom thought his life too precious to be subjected 
to blind risks. He had been exhilarated beyond 
his usual caution. If he must land on clouds, he 
would have to pull out of the stall dive at once, 
and come gently and circumspectly into the real 

Winged Victory. 1934. 



Aurora la Cujini 

On one side of the stage sat the musicians, two at 
the guitar, and two playing small instruments 
known as “ bandurrias," a cross between a man¬ 
dolin and a guitar. The women suddenly began 
to clap their hands in a strange rhythm, monot¬ 
onous at first, but which at length, like the beating 
of a tom-tom, makes the blood boil, quiets the 
audience, stills the conversation, and focuses all 
eyes upon the stage. Then one breaks out into a 
harsh wild song, the interval so strange, the time 
so wavering, and so mixed up the rhythm, that 
at first it scarcely seems more pleasing than the* 
howling of a wolf, but bit by bit goes to the soul, 
stirs up the middle marrow of the bones, and 
leaves all other music ever afterwards tame and 

The singing terminates abruptly, as it seems, for 
no set reason, and dies away m a prolonged high 
shake, and then a girl stands up, encouraged by 
her fellows with shouts of “ Venga Juana/' 

“ Vaya querida,” and a cross fire of hats thrown 
on the stage, and interjections from the audience 
of “ preciosita,” “ retrechera,” and the inspiriting 


clap of hands, which never ceases till the dancer, 
exhausted, sinks into a chair. Amongst the 
audience, drinking their manzanilla in little 
tumblers about the thickness of a piece of sugar¬ 
cane, eating their " boquerones,” ground nuts, 
and salted olives, the fire of criticism never stops, 
as every one in Seville of the lower classes is a keen 
critic both of dancing-girls and bulls. 

Of the elder men, a gipsy, though shouting out 
“ salero ” in a perfunctory manner, seemed dis¬ 
contented, and recalled the prowess of a gipsy 
long since dead, by name Aurora, sumamed La 
Cujifii, and gave it as his faith that since her time 
no girl had ever mastered all the mysteries of the 
dance. The Caloro, who always muster strong 
at the “Burero,” were on his side, and seemed 
inclined to enforce their arguments with their 
shears, which, as most of them maintain them¬ 
selves by clipping mules, they always carry in 
their sash. 

But just as the discussion seemed about to end 
in a free fight, a girl stepped out to dance. None 
had remarked her sitting quietly beside the rest; 
still, she was slightly different in appearance from 
them all. A gipsy at first sight, with the full 
lustrous eyes her people brought from Multan, 
dressed in a somewhat older fashion than the 
others, her hair brought low upon her forehead 
and straying on her shoulders in the style of 1840, 
her skirt much flounced, low shoes tied round the 
ankles, a Chinese shawl across her shoulders, and 
a look about her, as she walked into the middle 
of the stage, as of a mare about to kick. A 
whisper to the first guitar causes him with a smile 
to break into the Old, his instrument well “ requin- 

( 4 , 297 ) 39 4 


tado,” and his fingers flying across the cords as 
the old Moorish melody jarred and jingled out. 
She stands a moment motionless, her eyes dis¬ 
tending slowly and focusing the attention of the 
audience on her, and then a sort of shiver seems 
to run over her, the feet begin to gently scrape 
along the floor, her naked arms move slowly, with 
her fingers curiously bent and meant perhaps to 
indicate by their position the symbols of the oldest 
of religions, and, as the gipsies say, she draws the 
hearts of every onlooker into her net. She twists 
her hips till they seem ready to disjoint, wriggles 
in a snake-like fashion, drags her skirt upon the 
stage, draws herself up to her full height, bends 
double, thrusts all her body forward, her hands 
move faster, and the short sleeves slip back, 
exhibiting black tufts of hair under her arms, 
glued to her skin with sweat. Then she slides 
forwards, backwards, looks at the audience with 
defiance, takes a man’s hat from off the stage, 
places it on her head, puts both her arms akimbo, 
sways to and fro, but still keeps writhing as if her 
veins were full of quicksilver. Little by little the 
frenzy dies away, her eyes grow dimmer, and the 
movements of the body slower, and with a final 
stamp, and a hoarse guttural cry, she stands a 
moment quiet, as it is called " dormida,” that is, 
asleep, looking a very statue of impudicity. The 
audience remained a moment spellbound, with 
open mouths like Satyrs, and in the box where 
sat the foreign ladies, one has turned pale and 
rests her head upon the other’s shoulder, who 
holds her round the waist. Then with a mighty 
shout the applause breaks forth, hats rain upon 
the stage, " vivas ” and “ vayas ” rend the air, 


and the old gipsy bounds upon a table with a 
shout, “ One God, one Cujini.” But in the 
tumult La Cujini had disappeared, gone from the 
eyes of Calord and of Busne, Gipsy and Gentile, 
and none saw her more. 

Perhaps at witches' sabbaths she still dances, 
or perhaps in that strange Limbo where the souls 
of gipsies and their donkeys dree their weird, 
she writhes and dislocates herself in the Romalis. 

Sometimes the curious may see her still dancing 
before a Venta, in the woolly outline of a Spanish 
lithograph, her head thrown back, her hair au 
catagon , with one foot pointing to a hat to show 
her power over, and her contempt for, all the sons 
of men, just as she did upon that evening when 
she took a brief and fleeting reincarnation to 
breathe once more the air of Seville, heavy with 
perfume of spring flowers mixed with the scent 
of blood. 

Charity. 1912. 



The Bull Ring 

The bullfight is not a sport in the Anglo-Saxon 
sense of the word, that is, it is not an equal contest, 
or an attempt at an equal contest, between a bull 
and a man. Rather it is a tragedy; the death of 
the bull, which is played, more or less well, by the 
bull and the man involved, and in which there is 
danger for the man, but certain death for the 
animal. This danger to the man can be increased 
by the bullfighter at will in the measure in which 
he works close to the bull’s horns. Keeping 
within the rules for bullfighting on foot in a closed 
ring formulated by years of experience, which, if 
known and followed, permit a man to perform 
certain actions with a bull without being caught 
by the bull's horns, the bullfighter may, by de¬ 
creasing his distance from the bull's horns, depend 
more and more on his own reflexes and judgment 
of that distance to protect him from the points. 
This danger of goring, which the man certainly 
creates voluntarily, can be changed to certainty 
of being caught and tossed by the bull if the man, 
through ignorance, slowness, torpidness, blind 
folly or momentary grogginess, breaks any of 



these fundamental rules for the execution of the 
different suertes. Everything that is done by the 
man in the ring is called a “ suerte.” It is the 
easiest term to use, as it is short. It means act, 
but the word act has, in English, a connotation 
of the theatre that makes its use confusing. 

People seeing their first bullfight say, “ But 
the bulls are so stupid. They always go for the 
cape and not for the man.” 

The bull only goes for the percale of the cape, 
or for the scarlet serge of the muleta if the man 
makes him, and so handles the cloth that the bull 
sees it rather than the man. Therefore to really 
start to see bullfights a spectator should go to the 
novilladas or apprentice fights. There the bulls 
do not always go for the cloth because the bull¬ 
fighters are learning before your eyes the rules of 
bullfighting, and they do not always remember or 
know the proper terrain to take and how to keep 
the bull after the lure and away from the man. It 
is one thing to know the rules in principle and 
another to remember them as they are needed 
when facing an animal that is seeking to kill you, 
and the spectator who wants to see men tossed 
and gored rather than judge the manner in which 
the bulls are dominated should go to a novillada 
before he sees a corrido de toros or complete bull¬ 
fight. It should be a good thing for him to see 
a novillada first anyway if he wants to learn about 
technique, since the employment of knowledge 
that we call by that bastard name is always most 
visible in its imperfection. At a novillada the 
spectator may see the mistakes of the bull¬ 
fighters, and the penalties that these mistakes 
carry. He will learn something too about the 


state of training or lack of training of the men 
and the effect this has on their courage. 

One time in Madrid I remember we went to a 
novillada in the middle of the summer on a very 
hot Sunday, when every one who could afford it 
had left the city for the beaches of the north or the 
mountains, and the bullfight was not advertised 
to start until six o’clock in the evening, to see six 
Tovar bulls killed by three aspirant matadors, 
who have all since failed in their profession. We 
sat in the first row behind the wooden barrier, 
and when the first bull came out it was clear that 
Domingo Hernandorena, a short, thick-ankled, 
graceless Basque with a pale face who looked 
nervous and incompletely fed, in a cheap rented 
suit, if he was to kill this bull would either make 
a fool of himself or be gored. Hernandorena could 
not control the nervousness of his feet. He 
wanted to stand quietly and play the bull with 
the cape with a slow movement of his arms, but 
when he tried to stand still as the bull charged 
his feet jumped away in short, nervous jerks. 
His feet were obviously not under his personal 
control, and his effort to be statuesque, while his 
feet jittered him away out of danger, was very 
funny to the crowd. It was funny to them, 
because many of them knew that was how their 
own feet would behave if they saw the horns 
coming toward them, and as always, they resented 
any one else being in there in the ring, making 
money, who had the same physical defects which 
barred them, the spectators, from that sup¬ 
posedly highly paid way of making a living. In 
their turn the other two matadors were very 
fancy with the cape, and Hernandorena’s nervous 


jerking was even worse after their performance. 
He had not been in the ring with a bull for over 
a year, and he was altogether unable to control 
his nervousness. When the banderillas were in 
and it was time for him to go out with the red 
cloth and the sword to prepare the bull for 
killing and to kill, the crowd which had applauded 
ironically at every nervous move he had made 
knew something very funny would happen. 
Below us, as he took the muleta and the sword 
and rinsed his mouth out with water, I could see 
the muscles of his cheeks twitching. The bull 
stood against the barrier watching him. Heman- 
dorena could not trust his legs to carry him slowly 
towards the bull. He knew there was only one 
way he could stay in one place in the ring. He 
ran out toward the bull, and ten yards in front 
of him dropped on both knees on the sand. In 
that position he was safe from ridicule. He 
spread the red cloth with his sword and jerked 
himself forward on his knees toward the bull. 
The bull was watching the man and the triangle 
of red cloth, his ears pointed, his eyes fixed, and 
Hemandorena knee-ed himself a yard closer and 
shook the cloth. The bull’s tail rose, his head 
lowered, and he charged, and, as he reached the 
man, Hemandorena rose solidly from his knees 
into the air, swung over like a bundle, his legs in 
all directions now, and then dropped to the 
ground. The bull looked for him, found a wide¬ 
spread moving cape held by another bullfighter 
instead, charged it, and Hemandorena stood up, 
with sand on his white face, and looked for his 
sword and the cloth. As he stood up I saw the 
heavy, soiled grey silk of his rented trousers open 


cleanly and deeply to show the thigh bone from 
the hip almost to the knee. He saw it too and 
looked very surprised, and put his hand on it while 
people jumped over the barrier and ran toward 
him to carry him to the infirmary. The technical 
error that he had committed was in not keeping 
the red cloth of the muleta between himself and 
the bull until the charge ; then at the moment of 
jurisdiction as it is called, when the bull’s lowered 
head reaches the cloth, swaying back while he held 
the cloth, spread by the stick and the sword, 
far enough forward so that the bull following it 
would be clear of his body. It was a simple 
technical error. 

That night at the cafe I heard no word of sym¬ 
pathy for him. He was ignorant, he was torpid, 
and he was out of training. Why did he insist 
on being a bullfighter ? Why did he go down on 
both knees ? Because he was a coward, they said. 
The knees are for cowards. If he was a coward 
why did he insist on being a bullfighter ? There 
was no natural sympathy for uncontrollable 
nervousness, because he was a paid public per¬ 
former. It was perferable that he be gored rather 
than run from the bull. To be gored was honour¬ 
able ; they would have sympathized with him 
had he been caught in one of his nervous uncon¬ 
trollable jerky retreats, which, although they 
mocked, they knew were from lack of training, 
rather than for him to have gone down on his 
knees. Because the hardest thing when frightened 
by the bull is to control the feet and let the bull 
come, and any attempt to control the feet was 
honourable, even though they jeered at it because 
it looked ridiculous. But when he went on both 


knees, without the technique to fight from that 
position ; the technique that Marcial Lalanda, the 
most scientific of living bullfighters, has, and 
which alone makes that position honourable; 
then Hemandorena admitted his nervousness. 
To show his nervousness was not shameful; only 
to admit it. When, lacking the technique and 
thereby admitting his inability to control his 
feet, the matador went down on both knees before 
the bull, the crowd had no more sympathy with 
him than with a suicide. 

For myself, not being a bullfighter, and being 
much interested in suicides, the problem was one 
of depiction, and waking in the night I tried to 
remember what it was that seemed just out of my 
remembering, and that was the thing that I had 
really seen, and, finally, remembering all around 
it, I got it. When he stood up, his face white and 
dirty and the silk of his breeches opened from 
waist to knee, it was the dirtiness of the rented 
breeches, the dirtiness of his slit underwear and 
the clean, clean, unbearably clean whiteness of 
the thigh bone that I had seen, and it was that 
which was important. 

Death in the Afternoon. 1932. 



(Translated by J. Holroyd-Reece. 1926) 

Spanish Dancers 

Granada , 28th May . 

My dear Count,—You instructed me when I took 
my leave of you to bring you back something from 
Spain. Do you still remember our conversation in 
Paris in, I think, 1899, when we met at a perform¬ 
ance of Spanish dancers ? Good Heavens! how 
many years ago that was. Poor old Lautrec was 
with us too, and went quite mad about the contor¬ 
tions of these wild fellows, and I still possess the 
tablecloth which he covered with his funny draw¬ 
ings after we had finished a charming supper party. 

You then expressed the view that in the country 
itself there must be far finer types of Spanish 
dancers. In Seville and its surroundings I looked 
for them in vain, and I believe that the people 
whom we saw together must have been very rare 
specimens. People dance everywhere here in the 
South and very nicely too; it is in their blood like 
painting is in the blood of the French or playing 
“ Skat" is a talent of the Germans. People dance 
here better than elsewhere, but this ethnographical 
peculiarity cannot offer any advantages to a 


gourmet like yourself. There is a big difference 
between the agreeable quality of this average 
and the artistic performance which can satisfy 
our demands for concentrated gestures such as 
we wish to see. The Oteros are as rare here as the 
Duses are in Italy. I do not even know whether 
they are made into dancers here, though it is 
certain that this is their birthplace. The precise 
opposite from what applies to champagne bottled 
in Germany is true of them. The individual 
quality of a Tortajada or an Otero develops 
probably only on the stages of the European 
capitals. There are no doubt several Oteros in 
Spain, but they are descendents of our, not of 
Spanish beauty, to which I know you too have 
been faithful through the course of years. In 
other words, they are insignificant, provincial 
imitations. Everything which until now we have 
seen in Spain of this kind has been provincial. 

Here, where I think of you often, because there 
is hardly a place where I could enjoy better 
thinking of you, I am on the point of being per¬ 
suaded of a different conclusion. Here, a fairy 
tale of a measure of perfection is realized which 
those of us who travel so intensively find it difficult 
to believe in. That this experience should fall 
to our lot precisely in Granada contributes not a 
little to strengthen my assumption that here is 
the paradise of Spain. Among the gipsies of 
Granada the genius for the dance runs riot, not 
talent, but genius; I know that this statement 
will strike you as just as improbable as if I told 
you that the Alhambra was surrounded by a 
valley of gold and jewels. But, since you have, 
from time to time, given me proofs of your con- 


fidence, I venture to hope that you will hear me 
with patience. What undoubtedly has helped 
this tribe is their existence within another people, 
a process which has given a special discipline to 
the well-known gipsy tendency towards every¬ 
thing that is rhythmical. The gipsies of Granada 
have inhabited the picturesque caves of a moun¬ 
tain on the outskirts of the town for several 
centuries, and they have little in common with 
the itinerant people to be found in our regions, 
and they do not even understand their language! 
though they share some of their habits. Among 
themselves they speak Spanish, and occasionally 
a kind of slang which is, I believe, a corruption of 
the Andalusian dialect. Their blood is mingled 
considerably with that of Spain, so much so that 
the Mongolian cut of their faces has been reduced 
to the smallest minimum; nevertheless, one dis¬ 
tinguishes them immediately from the Spaniards 
and recognizes a superior species in them. Their 
expression is far more differentiated. The 
children, even if they are clothed in rags, look 
"beside Spanish children like princes and princesses. 
It is impossible to describe to you the delicacy of 
their movements. This gracefulness may be due 
to their freedom from physical work, and I have 
here almost been driven to the conclusion that 
begging is an ennobling profession. 

These dancing gipsies belong to a group under 
the leadership of their Capitano, Pepe Amaya, 
who danced in 1900 with a number of his tribe at 
the Paris Exhibition. Since you hardly ever miss 
anything you may have been more fortunate than 
I was in having seen them there. On the other 
hand, in view of our mutual interest in the dance 

5 ° 


I fancy you would have told me about it. Since 
then, my dear Count, even your interest in dancing 
will have waned. During the last years I had 
almost come to believe, when I found myself 
unable to be enthusiastic about the stars which 
somewhat undiscriminating Berlin had chosen 
for its idols, that it was due to my years which 
in so far as I have spent them in Berlin must be 
counted twice over, and I have caught you, my 
dear Sassen, occasionally in the act of coming 
to the same conclusion. Take comfort, my friend ! 
Even dancing, although it does not belong to the 
highest forms of art whose ideal we approach more 
and more in increasing age, can give us pure joys 
beyond the limits of our first youth. The troupe— 
you smile already; I spoke before of genius and 
now I am talking of a troupe; but I must tell you 
that this expression sounds as strange to me as it 
does to you. I do not refer to any sort of pro¬ 
fessional community, and to nothing resembling 
a collection of individuals who had practised set 
pieces together in order to display themselves 
before others. I have not yet fathomed the 
authority of the Capitano, which is considerable. 
His authority, at any rate, is anything except that 
of a dancing-master. I have been able to observe 
that there is no definite rule for the composition 
of the ensemble —one day some dance and the next 
day others. Although I have spent many a long 
day among them I have never yet seen a rehearsal, 
and when I inquired when the children, among 
whom are some only five years old, learnt to dance 
they simply laughed at me; the Capitano of 
course has his favourites just as we have favourites 
v whom we always like to see again. The gift, 



however, seems to be the inheritance of every girl 
of this clan. 

These girls are artists. You are smiling again. 
I know only too well what you want to say, but 
please do not imagine that I would dare to waste 
your precious leisure with news of modern tom¬ 
fooleries, whose lack of substance is thrown into 
relief only by artistic surroundings. We two, 
shoulder to shoulder, have known how to resist 
the charms of Miss Duncan, and you will not annoy 
me by thinking that down here I could forget 
the moral obligation which such a brotherhood- 
in-arms imposes upon me. There is nothing 
“ arty” about the art of these girls, children, and 
women. The sound of our literary artistry has 
not penetrated into the white gates of the Sacro 
Monte, and if it did it would smash itself against 
the primitive sense of its inhabitants. I would 
give a great deal to be able to tell you what this 
extraordinary difference between their dances 
and those of the North consists in. But even if 
I managed to do so, it would remain for me to add 
to this negative explanation the positive quality 
of this novelty, which alone could induce you to 
take the decision which I hope to engender in you 
by all the persuasive powers of my pen. I would 
confine myself to the gipsy element of these 
dances in order to awake in you a conception 
sympathetic to my plans, knowing how accessible 
your mind is to the slightest indication, if only I 
did not fear precisely this exceptionally sensitive 
accessibility in you ; you will not be able, as soon 
as I speak of artistic ideas, to think of anything 
but gipsy music when X talk of gipsies to you. 
And since you, thanks to the classical training of 


your fair desires, will not admit this kind of music 
even when it is interpreted by virtuosos like Liszt 
—and I cannot bring myself to blame you for it— 
you would nevertheless be unjust to my favourites. 
Our gipsies would not be able to dance to the 
melodies of the Hungarians. They would dislike 
this passion which clings too much to the surface. 
I cannot tell whether it is because they have too 
much or too little passion. It would no doubt 
be safer for me to link my arguments to your rich 
experience of Spanish dances. But, it is question¬ 
able whether it is not precisely the relative 
similarity of the dances which you know, which 
will make it more difficult for you to understand 
the peculiarity of our dancers. Otero and the 
others of her kind, also those who were not bom 
in Spain, and I am thinking especially of one who 
was—my dear Count, how long ago that is— 
equally dear to us, the plucky Duclerc—all these 
Spaniards mime while they dance. Their dancing 
is simply something which makes their representa¬ 
tion more easy for them without being its basis. 
They give us something which does not demand 
exclusively the medium of the dance. The same 
decadence is manifested in them as the decadence 
which we see so often in painting and music at 
home; a blurring of the boundaries of art, which 
I would sometimes credit with a touch of genius 
if you had not pointed out to me so often that 
barbarism does not merit such a title. I must 
admit that the confusion of the classical concepts 
of the dance, which are due to people like Otero, 
strike me as more valuable than the attempts bom 
of a passion for restoration as expressed by certain 
English performers, because it is always preferable 


that some one who has anything to say at all 
should express himself in a manner which is suited 
to him, even if the results do not give us complete 
form, rather than that he should twist and turn 
without saying anything, even if his contortions 
are reminiscent of good models. A fragment may 
serve a future form of art while unintelligent 
imitation is worthless. You will agree with me 
if I describe the cultivated manner of Isadora 
Duncan as being more coarse than the manner of 
Otero. Permit me for one moment to continue 
this highly immodest discourse. While I am 
bringing owls to Athens I am nevertheless ap¬ 
proaching my intention. Beside the ugliness of 
Isadora Duncan, who does not derive any advan¬ 
tage from her ugliness, Ruth St. Denis strikes me 
as being of an equally disadvantageous beauty; 
her beauty remains a factor outside her art. She 
assumes with less discretion than Otero mofe far¬ 
fetched motives and dances to their accompani¬ 
ment. The type of Loie Fuller brings in another 
strange factor of their art. We honour them both, 
but we certainly do not honour what should be 
honoured in a dancer; their beautiful play of 
colours sets in motion the mechanism of the 
kaleidescope and of electric illumination instead 
of the formative power of the human body. 
Something would be left even if one could elimi¬ 
nate their weakest side, their English sentimen¬ 
tality. Their efforts are directed at best towards 
the representation of a dancing butterfly, whose 
body consists of wings. If the gentle face of the 
Mademoiselle—always a very dubious addition- 
disappeared from the game, then only a rhythmic 
pattern of colour would remain. In other words, 


the modest boundaries of the dance are not ex¬ 
tended, but very considerably reduced. 

I think you may guess my intentions. My 
people are dancers, really dancers. Perhaps the 
number of varied mistakes to be seen on our 
modem stages makes me satisfied with less than 
is appropriate to your reporter. Perhaps their 
effect is so extraordinary on me because they 
avoid the mistakes of the others, and possibly the 
recognition that they remain within the confines 
of their art induces me to see positive value. For 
after all a man who conceives the idea of being 
simple in this age of noisy music earns for his 
harmless talent the appreciation given to some¬ 
thing unusual, and he will be recognized only 
later on for the simpleton he is. It is also possible 
that my dancers benefit by their surroundings; 
nature which strikes us as so human that we 
interpret the slightest gesture as the language of 
nature; in other words, that fundamentally they 
are no different from the dancers of the modem 
stage who use a large apparatus for small ends. 
But even then they would display something of 
the refinement of genius. To me, however, they 
seem simple, possessing that natural simplicity 
which does not need to limit itself. Life glides in 
them into dancing as it does in the case of a great 
artist to the abstraction of his sensibility. And 
I believe that this nature which helps them might 
easily be a danger to others on a lower level. For 
is it not very difficult to invent an expression 
suitable to a given nature which does not appear 
to us as banal, superfluous, exaggerated ? In 
fact, is it possible to attain it by artificial means 
if it does not emanate from sensibility ? And the 
( 4 , 297 ) 55 5 


nature of these gipsies has its wealth for sponsor. 
I have seen them often and always found them 
new although their dances were the same. Not 
one of these gipsies dances like the other. All 
that we can recognize as constant are the contours 
of their figures. They perform the well-known 
Spanish national dances of Mauresque origin ; 
Sevillana, Morrongo, Fandango, etc. . . . The 
Spaniards perform them with the Philistine con¬ 
ventionality, which we are familiar with through 
the French dancing lessons of our mothers when 
they learnt the contre-danse. Of course, a little 
more plastic and a little more pleasing. But these 
gipsies turn it into a living language. And nothing 
would be more beside the mark than if I said that 
they rise above this conventionality and invent 
free variations to a given theme. That is not at 
all the case. Their dances are as conventional as 
possible. Their sensibility never induces them 
to look for a piquant discord opposed to the 
natural rhythm. Nor can I say that they renew 
the traditions. I feel rather that they possess the 
tradition in a superior way, that they are nearer 
the original form of the tradition. Sometimes 
they strike me as akin to the Moors who invented 
these dances in a world of dreams. They are able 
to dream while dancing, and their dance liberates 
the dream from its erotic content. Their love- 
dances are absolutely unsexual. Love was no 
doubt their origin, but they expand into the 
richer world of sensuousness in which their ges¬ 
tures lose their specific erotic significance; this 
is the difference between them ana the enraptured 
Spanish dancers who intoxicated poor old Lautrec; 
their art was really only nature, the quiver of the 


human animal, whose greatest tension degenerates 
into a cramp-like condition. Only Lautrec turned 
it into art, although he exaggerated what was 
cramp-like in them because he gained his rhythm 
from the exaggeration which was denied to his 
models. All that was charming in his models was 
Lautrec’s recognition that the horrible contortions 
of these fellows lent themselves to the creation of 
new ornaments because the genesis of this art is 
too familiar to us, and because at such moments 
we do not look with the eyes of the appreciative 
connoisseur, but with the eyes of the seeking 
artist. The gipsies, of course, do not renounce 
every psychological factor, but they discriminate, 
whereas Lautrec’s people did not. They chose 
just that which gives sufficient jaggedness to the 
conventional roundness of the dance in order to 
reveal its round plasticity as something which they 
have added. This equation makes a hundred 
inventions possible and necessary. Their origin¬ 
ality does not shock us because we are able to 
follow its purpose; since the main performers are 
small girls their play gains in reticence. If I must 
betray my final thoughts to you, I must say that 
these little creatures in their caves do not strike 
me as exotic, but in the highest degree European. 
They play as people played in the eighteenth 
century without reminding us of the Dix HuitUme. 
It is not too bold to think of the Hungarian side 
of Haydn, even of Mozart himself, though not of 
Mozart’s music. Their sweetest charm is derived 
perhaps from the curious fact that their familiar 
civilization emanates from a custom which is 
strange to us. 


Spanish Journey. 1926. 




The coach was fairly full of people, returning from 
market. On these railways the third-class 
coaches are not divided into compartments. 
They are left open, so that one sees everybody, as 
down a room. The attractive saddle-bags, bercok, 
were disposed anywhere, and the bulk of the people 
settled down to a lively conversazione. It is much 
nicest, on the whole, to travel third-class on the 
railway. There is space, there is air, and it is like 
being in a lively inn, everybody in good spirits. 

At our end was plenty of room. Just across the 
gangway was an elderly couple, like two children, 
coming home very happily. He was fat, fat all 
over, with a white moustache and a little not 
unamiable frown. She was a tall, lean, brown 
woman, in a brown full-skirted dress and black 
apron, with huge pocket. She wore no head cover¬ 
ing, and her iron-grey hair was parted smoothly. 
They were rather pleased and excited being in the 
train. She took all her money out of her big 
pocket, and counted it and gave it to him: all 
the ten-lira notes, and the five-lira, and the two 
and the one, peering at the dirty scraps of pink- 


backed one-lira notes to see if they were good. 
Then she gave him her halfpennies. And he 
stowed them away in the trouser pocket, standing 
up to push them down his fat leg. And then one 
saw, to one’s amazement, that the whole of his 
shirt-tail was left out behind, like a sort of apron 
worn backwards. Why—a mystery. He was one 
of those fat, good-natured, unheeding men with a 
little masterful frown, such as usually have tall, 
lean, hard-faced, obedient wives. 

They were very happy. With amazement he 
watched us taking hot tea from the thermos flask. 
I think he too had suspected it might be a bomb. 
He had blue eyes and standing-up white eye¬ 

“ Beautiful hot! ” he said, seeing the tea steam. 
It is the inevitable exclamation. “ Does it do you 
good ? ” 

“ Yes,” said the queen bee. " Much good.” 
And they both nodded complacently. They were 
going home. 

The train was running over the malarial-looking 
sea plain—past the down-at-heel palm trees, past 
mosque-looking buildings. At a level crossing the 
woman crossing-keeper darted out vigorously with 
her red flag. And we rambled into the first village. 
It was built of sun-dried brick-adobe houses, thick 
adobe garden walls, with tile ridges to keep off the 
rain. In the enclosures were dark orange trees. 
But the clay-coloured villages, clay-dry, looked 
foreign : the next thing to mere earth they seem, 
like fox-holes or coyote colonies. 

Looking back, one sees Cagliari bluff on her rock, 
rather fine, with the thin edge of the sea’s blade 



curving round. It is rather hard to believe in the 
real sea, on this sort of clay-pale plain. 

But soon we begin to climb to the hills. And 
soon the cultivation begins to be intermittent. 
Extraordinary how the heathy, moor-like hills 
come near the sea : extraordinary how scrubby 
and uninhabited the great spaces of Sardinia are. 
It is wild, with heath and arbutus scrub and a sort 
of myrtle, breast-high. Sometimes one sees a few 
head of cattle. And then again come the greyish 
arable patches, where the corn is grown. It is 
like Cornwall, like the Land’s End region. Here 
and there, in the distance, are peasants working 
on the lonely landscape. Sometimes it is one man 
alone in the distance, showing so vividly in his 
black and white costume, small and far-off like 
a solitary magpie, and curiously distinct. All the 
strange magic of Sardinia is in this sight. Among 
the low, moor-like hills, away in a hollow of the 
wide landscape, one solitary figure, small but vivid 
black-and-white, working alone, as if eternally. 
There are patches and hollows of grey arable 
land, good for corn. Sardinia was once a great 

Usually, however, the peasants of the South 
have left off the costume. Usually it is the in¬ 
visible soldier's grey-green cloth, the Italian khaki. 
Wherever you go, wherever you be, you see this 
khaki, this grey-green war clothing. How many 
millions of yards of the thick, excellent, but hate¬ 
ful material the Italian Government must have 
provided I don’t know: but enough to cover Italy 
with a felt carpet, I should think. It is everywhere. 
It cases the tiny children in stiff and neutral frocks 
and coats, it covers their extinguished fathers, and 


sometimes it even encloses the women in its 
warmth. It is symbolic of the universal grey mist 
that has come over men, the extinguishing of all 
bright individuality, the blotting out of all wild 
singleness. Oh, democracy! Oh, khaki demo¬ 
cracy ! 

This is very different from Italian landscape. 
Italy is always almost dramatic, and perhaps 
invariably romantic. There is drama in the Plains 
of Lombardy and romance in the Venetian 
lagoons, and sheer scenic excitement in nearly all 
the hilly parts of the peninsula. Perhaps it is the 
natural floridity of limestone formations. But 
Italian landscape is really eighteenth-century land¬ 
scape, to be represented in that romantic-classic 
manner which makes everything rather marvellous 
and very topical: aqueducts, and ruins upon 
sugar-loaf mountains, and craggy ravines and 
Wilhelm Meister waterfalls : all up and down. 

Sardinia is another thing. Much wider, much 
more ordinary, not up-and-down at all, but run¬ 
ning away into the distance. Unremarkable 
ridges of moor-like hills running away, perhaps 
to a bunch of dramatic peaks on the south-west. 
This gives a sense of space, which is so lacking in 
Italy. Lovely space about one, and travelling 
distances—nothing finished, nothing final. It is 
like liberty itself, after the peaky confinement of 
Sicily. Room—give me room—give me room for 
my spirit: and you can have all the toppling crags 
of romance. 

So we ran on through the gold of the afternoon, 
across a wide, almost. Celtic landscape of hills, our 
little train winding and puffing away very nimbly. 



Only the heath and scrub, breast-high, man-high, 
are too big and brigand-like for a Celtic land. The 
horns of black, wild-looking cattle show sometimes. 

After a long pull, we come to a station after a 
stretch of loneliness. Each time it looks as if 
there were nothing beyond—no more habitations. 
And each time we come to a station. 

Most of the people have left the train. And 
as with men driving in a gig, who get down at 
every public-house, so the passengers usually alight 
for an airing at each station. Our old fat friend 
stands up and tucks his shirt tail comfortably in 
his trousers, which trousers all the time make one 
hold one’s breath, for they seem at each very 
moment to be just dropping right down: and he 
clambers out, followed by the long, brown stalk 
of a wife. 

So the train sits comfortably for five or ten 
minutes, in the way the trains have. At last we 
hear whistles and horns, and our old fat friend 
running and clinging like a fat crab to the very 
end of the train as it sets off. At the same instant 
a loud shriek and a bunch of shouts from outside. 
We all jump up. There, down the line, is the long 
brown stalk of a wife. She had just walked back 
to a house some hundred yards off, for a few words, 
and has now seen the train moving. 

Now behold her with her hands thrown to 
heaven, and hear the wild shriek " Madonna! ” 
through all the hubbub. But she picks up her 
two skirt-knees, and with her thin legs in grey 
stockings starts with a mad rush after the train. 
In vain. The train inexorably pursues its course. 
Prancing, she reaches one end of the platform as 
we leave the other end. Then she realizes it is 


not going to stop for her. And then, oh horror, 
her long arms thrown out in wild supplication 
after the retreating train: then flung aloft to 
God: then brought down in absolute despair 
on her head. And this is the last sight we have 
of her, clutching her poor head in agony and 
doubling forward. She is left—she is aban¬ 

The poor fat husband has been all the time on 
the little outside platform at the end of the car¬ 
riage, holding out his hand to her and shouting 
frenzied scolding to her and frenzied yells for the 
train to stop. And the train has not stopped. 
And she is left—left on that God-forsaken station 
in the waning light. 

So, his face all bright, his eyes round and bright 
as two stars, absolutely transfigured by dismay, 
chagrin, anger and distress, he comes and sits in 
his seat, ablaze, stiff, speechless. His face is almost 
beautiful in its blaze of conflicting emotions. 
For some time he is as if unconscious in the midst 
of his feelings. Then anger and resentment crop 
out of his consternation. He turns with a flash 
to the long-nosed, insidious, Phoenician-looking 
guard. Why couldn’t they stop the train for her ! 
And immediately, as if some one had set fire to 
him, off flares the guard. Heh !—the train can’t 
stop for every person’s convenience ! The train is 
a train—the time-table is a time-table. What 
did the old woman want to take her trips down the 
line for ? Heh ! She pays the penalty for her own 
inconsiderateness. Had she paid for the trai n — 
heh ? And the fat man all the time firing off his 
unheeding and unheeded answers. One minute— 
only one minute—if he, the conductor, had told 


the driver! if he, the conductor, had shouted! 
A poor woman ! Not another train ! What was 
she going to do ! her ticket ? And no money. 
A poor woman- 

There was a train back to Cagliari that night, 
said the conductor, at which the fat man nearly 
burst out of his clothing like a bursting seed- 
pod. He bounced on his seat. What good was 
that ? What good was a train back to Cagliari, 
when their home was in Snelli! Making matters 

So they bounced and jerked and argued at one 
another to their hearts’ content. Then the 
conductor retired, smiling subtly, in a way they 
have. Our fat friend looked at us with hot, angry, 
ashamed, grieved eyes and said it was a shame. 
Yes, we chimed, it was a shame. Whereupon a 
self-important miss who said she came from some 
Collegio at Cagliari advanced and asked a number 
of impertinent questions in a tone of pert sym¬ 
pathy. After which our fat friend, left alone, 
covered his clouded face with his hand, turned his 
back on the world, and gloomed. 

It had all been so dramatic that in spite of 
ourselves we laughed, even while the queen-bee 
shed a few tears. 

Well, the journey lasted hours. We came to 
a station, and the conductor said we must get out: 
these coaches went no further. Only two coaches 
would proceed to Mandas. So we climbed out 
with our traps, and our fat friend with his saddle¬ 
bag, the picture of misery. 

The one coach into which we clambered was 
rather crowded. The only other coach was most 


of it first-class. And the rest of the train was 
freight. We were two insignificant passenger 
wagons at the end of a long string of freight vans 
and trucks. 

There was an empty seat, so we sat in it: only 
to realize after about five minutes that a thin old 
woman with two children—her grandchildren— 
was chuntering her head off because it was her seat 
—why she had left it she didn’t say. And under 
my legs was her bundle of bread. She nearly 
went off her head. And over my head, on the 
little rack, was her bercola, her saddle-bag. Fat 
soldiers laughed at her good-naturedly, but she 
fluttered and flipped like a tart, featherless old 
hen. Since she had another seat and was quite 
comfortable, we smiled and let her chunter. So 
she clawed her bread bundle from under my legs, 
and, clutching it and a fat child, sat tense. 

It was getting quite dark. The conductor came 
and said that there was no more paraffin. If what 
there was in the lamps gave out, we should have to 
sit in the dark. There was no more paraffin ail 
along the line. So he climbed on the seats, and 
after a long struggle, with various boys striking 
matches for him, he managed to obtain a light as 
big as a pea. We sat in this clairobscur, and looked 
at the sombre-shadowed faces round us : the fat 
soldier with a gun, the handsome soldier with 
huge saddle-bags, the weird, dark little man who 
kept exchanging a baby with a solid woman who 
had a white cloth tied round her head, a tall 
peasant woman in costume, who darted out at a 
dark station and returned triumphant with a piece 
of chocolate : a young and interested young man, 


who told us every station. And the man who spat: 
there is always one. 

Gradually the crowd thinned. At a station we 
saw our fat friend go by, bitterly, like a betrayed 
soul, his bulging saddle-bag hanging before and 
after, but no comfort in it now—no comfort. 
The pea of light from the paraffin lamp grew 
smaller. We sat in incredible dimness, and the 
smell of sheep's wool and peasant, with our fat 
and stoic young man to tell us where we were. 
The other dusky faces began to sink into a dead 
gloomy silence. Some took to sleep. And the 
little train ran on and on, through unknown 
Sardinian darkness. In despair we drained the 
last drop of tea and ate the last crusts of bread. 
We knew we must arrive some time. 

Sea and Sardinia. 1923. 





There is a daily recurring spectacle at Tozeur 
which enchanted me: the camping ground at 
dawn. Here the caravans repose after their 
desert journeys; hence they start, at every hour, 
in picturesque groups and movement. But who¬ 
ever wishes for a rare impression of Oriental life 
must go there before sunrise, and wait for the 
slow-coming dawn. It is all dark at first, but 
presently a sunny beam flashes through the dis¬ 
tant palms, followed by another, and yet another 
—long shafts of yellow light travelling through 
the murk; then you begin to perceive that the 
air is heavy with the smoke of extinguished camp¬ 
fires and suspended particles of dust; the ground, 
heaving, gives birth to dusky shapes; there are 
weird groans and gurglings of silhouetted appari¬ 
tions ; and still you cannot clearly distinguish 
earth from air—it is as if one watched the creation 
of a new world out of Chaos. 

But even before the sun has topped the crowns 
of the palms, the element of mystery is eliminated; 
the vision resolves itself into a common plain 
of sand, authentic camels and everyday Arabs 



moving about their business—another caravan, 
in short. . . . 

And at midday ? 

Go, at that hour, to the thickest part of the 
grove ; then is the time ; it must be the prick of 
noon, for the slanting lights of morning and eve 
are quite another concern ; only at noon can one 
appreciate the incomparable effects of palm-leaf 
shadows. The whole garden is permeated with 
light that streams down from some indiscoverable 
source, and its rigid trunks, painted in a warm, 
lustreless grey, are splashed with an infinity of 
keen lines of darker tint, since the sunshine, per¬ 
colating through myriads of sharp leaves, etches 
a filigree pattern upon all that lies below. You 
look into endless depths of forest, but there is no 
change in decorative design ; the identical sword- 
pattern is for ever repeated on the identical back¬ 
ground, fading away, at last, in a silvery haze. 

Here are no quaint details to attract the eye ; 
no gorgeous colour-patterns or pleasing irregu¬ 
larities of form ; the frosted beauty of the scene 
appeals rather to the intelligence. Contrasted 
with the wanton blaze of green, the contorted 
trunks and labyrinthine shadow-meanderings of 
our woodlands, these palm groves, despite their 
frenzied exuberance, figure forth the idea of 
reserve and chastity; an impression which is 
heightened by the ethereal striving of those 
branchless columns, by their joyous and effective 
rupture of the horizontal, so different from the 
careworn tread of our oaks and beeches. 

Later on, when the intervening vines and fruit 
trees are decked in leaves, the purity of this geo¬ 
metrical design will be impaired. . . . 



The origin of Tozeur is lost in the grey mists of 
antiquity, since a site like this must have been 
cultivated from time immemorial; the first 
classical writer to mention the town is Ptolemy, 
who calls it Tisouros ; on Peutinger’s Tables it is 
marked “ Thusuro.” The modem settlement has 
wandered away from this ancient one which now 
slumbers—together, maybe, with its hoary Egyp¬ 
tian prototype—under high-piled mounds whereon 
have arisen, since those days, a few mediaeval 
monuments and crumbling m araboutic shrines 
and houses of more modern'’date, patched to¬ 
gether with antique building blocks and fragments 
of marble cornices : an island of sand and oblivion, 
lapped by soft-surging palms. 

They call it Bled-el-Adher nowadays, and this 
is the place to spend the evening. I was there 
yesterday, perhaps for the last time. 

It exhales a soporific, world-forgotten fragrance. 
There is no market here, no commercial or social 
life, save a few greybeards discussing memories on 
some doorstep ; the only mirthful note is a swarm 
of young boys playing hockey on the sandheaps, 
amid furious yells and scrimmages. 

True hockey being out of the question on 
account of the deep sand, they have invented a 
variant, a simple affair : they arrange themselves 
roughly into two parties, and the ball is struck 
into the air with a palm branch from the one to 
the other ; there, where it alights, a general rush 
ensues to get hold of it, clouds of sand arising out 
of a maze of intertwining arms and legs. The lucky 
possessor is entitled to have the next stroke, and 
the precision and force of their hitting is remark¬ 
able ; they evidently do little else all day long. 



I noticed an element of good humour and fan- 
play not prevalent among the Gafsa boys ; there 
was no peevish squabbling, and I only saw one 
fight which was a perfectly correct transaction— 
nobody interfering with the two combatants, who 
hammered lustily at each other’s faces, and at last 
separated, satisfied and streaming with blood. 
For some days past they had seen my interest in 
the game, and yesterday I observed that it was 
suddenly suspended ; a consultation was taking 
place, and presently one of the boys approached 
me and politely asked whether I would not care 
to join; if so, I might have his club; and he 
placed the weapon and ball in my hand. The 
proposition tempted me; it is not every day that 
one is invited in such gentlemanly fashion to 
wallow on all fours with young Arabs. I made one 
or two strokes, not amiss, that called forth huge 
applause ; and then returned, rather regretfully, 
to my sand-heap, to meditate on my own mis¬ 
spent youth, a subject that very rarely troubles 

There is a tall, round building that stands 
within a hundred yards of where I sat; they call 
it the " Roman ” tower, and the foundation- 
stones, though not in ..situ, are probably of that 
period; it was a Byzantine bell-tower, then a 
minaret, now a ruin. And here, confronting me, 
lie a few stones, that are all that remain of a 
pagan temple which became a Christian basilica 
and afterwards a mosque. In the fifth century 
Tisouros—this slumberous Bled-el-Adher—was 
a dependency of the Greek " Duke of Gafsa ” 
(how strange it sounds !); Florentius, its bishop, 
was executed by the king of the Vandals; Chris- 


tian churches survived, side by side with mosques 
as late as the fourteenth century. There seems t 
have been no great religious intolerance in thos 

They showed me a gold coin of the Emperc 
Gordian—the same who built the amphitheatre c 
El-Djem—which was found here, as well as som^ 
lamps and sculptured fragments of stone. Bruce 
speaks of cipollino columns ; they are still to be 
seen, if you care to look for them, split up, since 
his time, to mend walls and doorsteps. Tozeur 
must have looked well enough under the later 

And now, sand-heaps and a brood of young 
savages, shouting at their game. It is long since 
these people knew the meaning of refined things, 
although some of the houses, their fronts deco¬ 
rated with gracious designs in brickwork, testify 
to a not extinct artistic feeling—the citizens once 
enjoyed a reputation for delicacy and love of 
letters. There is nothing like systematic mis- 
govemment for degrading mankind, and I think 
it likely that the gradual fusion of the Arab and 
Berber races, so antagonistic in all their aspira¬ 
tions, may have helped to abrade the finer edges 
of both parent-stocks. But the native civilization 
was not remarkable at any time. 

The climate, and then their religion, has made 
them hard and incurious ; it is a land of uncom¬ 
promising masculinity. The softer element— 
th an ks to the Koran—has become non-existent, 
and you will look in vain for the creative-feminine, 
for those intermediate types of ambiguous, sub¬ 
merged sexuality, the constructive poets and 
dreamers, the men of imagination and women of 
(4,297) 71 6 


will, that give to good society in the north its 
sweetness and chatoyance ; for those “ sports ” 
and eccentrics who, among our lower classes, are 
centrifugal—perpetually tending to diverge in 
this or that direction. The native is pre-eminently 
centripetal. His life is reduced to its simplest 
physiological expression; that capacity of re¬ 
flection, of forming suggestive and fruitful con¬ 
cepts, which lies at the bottom of every kind of 
progress or culture, has been sucked out of him 
by the sun and by Mahomet’s teaching. 

A land of violence, remorseless and relentless; 
the very beetles, so placid elsewhere, seem to have 
acquired a nervously virile temperament; they 
scurry about the sand at my feet with an air of 
rage and determination. 

So I mused, while the game went on boister¬ 
ously in the mellow light of sunset till, from some 
decaying minaret near by, there poured down a 
familiar long-drawn wail—the call to prayer. It 
was a golden hour among those mounds of sand, 
and I grew rather sad to think that I should never 
see the place again. How one longs to engrave 
certain memories upon the brain, to keep them 
untarnished and carry them about on one's 
journeyings, in all their freshness. The happiest 
life, seen in perspective, can hardly be better than 
a stringing together of such odd little moments. 

Fountains in the Sand. 1912. 




East Africa 

In looking back on the multitudinous pictures 
that the word Africa bids rise in my memory, 
four stand out more distinctly than the others. 
Strangely enough, these are by no means all 
pictures of average country—the sort of thing one 
would describe as typical. Perhaps, in a way, 
they symbolize more the spirit of the country 
to me, for certainly they represent but a small 
minority of its infinitely varied aspects. But since 
we must make a start somewhere, and since for 
some reason these four crowd most insistently in 
the recollection, it might be well to begin with 

Our camp was pitched under a single large 
mimosa tree near the edge of a deep and narrow 
ravine down which a stream flowed. A semicircle 
of low mountains hemmed us in at the distance of 
several miles. The other side of the semicircle 
was occupied by the upthrow of a low rise block¬ 
ing off an horizon at its nearest point but a few 
hundred yards away. Trees marked the course 
of the stream; low scattered bushes alternated 
with open plain. The grass grew high. We had 
to cut it out to make camp. 



Nothing indicated that we were otherwise 
situated than in a very pleasant, rather wide grass 
valley in the embrace of the mountains. Only a 
walk of a few hundred yards atop the upthrow of 
the low rise revealed the fact that it was in reality 
the lip of a bench, and that beyond it the country 
fell away in sheer cliffs whose ultimate drop was 
some fifteen hundred feet. One could sit atop 
and dangle his feet over unguessed abysses. 

For a week we had been hunting for greater 
kudu. Each day Memba Sasa and I went in one 
direction, while Mavrouki and Kongoni took 
another line. We looked carefully for signs, 
but found none fresher than the month before. 
Plenty of other game made the country interest¬ 
ing ; but we were after a shy and valuable prize, 
so dared not shoot lesser things. At last, at the 
end of the week, Mavrouki came in with a tale 
of eight lions seen in the low scrub across the 
stream. The kudu business was about finished, 
as far as this place went, so we decided to take a 
look for the lions. 

We ate by lantern, and at the first light were 
ready to start. But at that moment, across the 
slope of the rim a few hundred yards away, ap¬ 
peared a small group of sing-sing. These are a 
beautiful big beast, with widespread horns, proud 
and wonderful, like Landseer’s stags, and I wanted 
one of them very much. So I took the Spring- 
field and dropped behind the line of some bushes. 
The stalk was of the ordinary sort. One has to 
remain behind cover, to keep down wind, to 
make no quick movements. Sometimes this takes 
considerable manoeuvring ; especially, as now, in 
the case of a small band fairly well scattered out 


for feeding. Often after one has succeeded in 
placing them all safely behind the scattered cover, 
a straggler will step out into view. Then the 
hunter must stop short, must slowly, oh very, 
very slowly, sink down out of sight; so slowly, 
in fact, that he must not seem to move, but rather 
to melt imperceptibly away. Then he must take 
up his progress at a lower plane of elevation. 
Perhaps he needs merely to stoop; or he may 
crawl on hands and knees ; or he may lie flat and 
hitch himself forward by his toes, pushing his gun 
ahead. If one of the beasts suddenly looks very 
intently in his direction, he must freeze into no 
matter what uncomfortable position, and so re¬ 
main an indefinite time. Even a hotel-bred child 
to whom you have rashly made advances stares no 
longer nor more intently than a buck that cannot 
make you out. 

I had no great difficulty with this lot, but 
slipped up quite successfully to within one hundred 
and fifty yards. There I raised my head behind 
a little bush to look. Three does grazed nearest 
me, their coats rough against the chill of early 
morning. Up the slope were two more does and 
two funny, fuzzy babies. An immature buck 
occupied the extreme left with three young ladies. 
But the big buck, the leader, the boss of the lot, 
I could not see anywhere. Of course he must be 
about, and I craned my neck cautiously here and 
there trying to make him out. 

Suddenly, with one accord, all turned and 
began to trot rapidly away to the right, their 
heads high. In the strange manner of animals, 
they had received telepathic alarm, and had 
instantly obeyed. Then beyond and far to the 



right I at last saw the beast I had been looking 
for. The old villain had been watching me all 
the time! 

The little herd in single file made their way 
rapidly along the face of the rise. They were 
headed in the direction of the stream. Now, I 
happened to know that at this point the stream- 
canon was bordered by sheer cliffs. Therefore, 
the sing-sing must round the hill, and not cross 
the stream. By running to the top of the hill 
I might catch a glimpse of them somewhere below. 
So I started on a jog-trot, trying to hit the golden 
mean of speed that would still leave me breath to 
shoot. This was an affair of some nicety in the 
tall grass. Just before I reached the actual slope, 
however, I revised my schedule. The reason was 
supplied by a rhino that came grunting to his feet 
about seventy yards away. He had not seen me, 
and he had not smelled me, but the general dis¬ 
turbance of all these events had broken into his 
early morning nap. He looked to me like a person 
who is cross before breakfast, so I ducked low and 
ran around him. The last I saw of him he was 
still standing there, quite disgruntled, and evi¬ 
dently intending to write to the directors about it. 

Arriving at the top, I looked eagerly down. 
The cliff fell away at an impossible angle, but 
sheer below ran out a narrow bench fifty yards 
wide. Around the point of the hill to my right— 
where the herd had gone—a game trail dropped 
steeply to this bench. I arrived just in time to 
see the sing-sing, still trotting, file across the 
bench and over its edge, on some other invisible 
game trail, to continue their descent of the cliff. 
The big buck brought up the rear. At the very 


edge he came to a halt, and looked back, throwing 
his head up and his nose out so that the heavy 
fur on his neck stood forward like a ruff. It was 
a last glimpse of him, so I held my little best, and 
pulled trigger. 

This happened to be one of those shots I spoke 
of—which the perpetrator accepts with a thankful 
and humble spirit. The sing-sing leaped high in 
the air and plunged over the edge of the bench. 
I signalled the camp—in plain sight—to come 
and get the head and meat, and sat down to wait. 
And while waiting, I looked out on a scene that 
has since been to me one of my four symboliza¬ 
tions of Africa. 

The morning was dull, with grey clouds through 
which at wide intervals streamed broad bands of 
misty light. Below me the cliff fell away clear 
to a gorge in the depths of which flowed a river. 
Then the land began to rise, broken, sharp, 
tumbled, terrible, tier after tier, gorge after gorge, 
one twisted range after the other, across a breath¬ 
lessly immeasurable distance. The prospect was 
full of shadows thrown by the tumult of lava. 
In those shadows one imagined stranger abysses. 
Far down to the right a long narrow lake in¬ 
augurated a flatter, alkali-whitened country of 
low cliffs in long straight lines. Across the dis¬ 
tances proper to a dozen horizons the tumbled 
chaos heaved and fell. The eye sought rest at 
the bounds usual to its accustomed world—and 
went on. There was no roundness to the earth, 
no grateful curve to drop this great fierce country 
beyond a healing horizon out of sight. The 
immensity of primal space was in it, and the 
simplicity of primal things—rough, unfinished, 


full of mystery. There was no colour. The 
scene was done in slate grey, darkening to the 
opaque where a tiny distant rain squall started; 
lightening in the nearer shadows to reveal half- 
guessed peaks ; brightening unexpectedly into 
broad short bands of misty grey light slanting 
from the grey heavens above to the sombre 
tortured immensity beneath. It was such a thing 
as Gustave Dor<$ might have imaged to serve as 
abiding place for the fierce chaotic spirit of the 
African wilderness. 

I sat there for some time hugging my knees, 
waiting for the men to come. The tremendous 
landscape seemed to have been willed to im¬ 
mobility. The rain, squalls forty miles or more 
away did not appear to shift their shadows; the 
rare slanting bands of light from the clouds were 
as constant as though they were falling through 
cathedral windows. But nearer at hand other 
things were forward. The birds, thousands of 
them, were doing their best to cheer things up. 
The roucoulements of doves rose from the bushes 
down the face of the cliffs; the bell bird uttered 
his clear ringing note; the chime bird gave his 
celebrated imitation of a really gentlemanly sixty- 
horse-power touring car hinting you out of the 
way with the mellowness of a chimed horn ; the 
bottle bird poured gallons of guggling essence of 
happiness from his silver jug. From the direction 
of camp, evidently jumped by the boys, a stein- 
buck loped gracefully, pausing every few minutes 
to look back, his dainty legs tense, his sensitive 
ears pointed toward the direction of disturbance. 

And now, along the face of the cliff, I began to 
make out the flashing of much movement, half 


glimpsed through the bushes. Soon a fine old- 
man baboon, his tail arched after the dandified 
fashion of the baboon aristocracy, stepped out, 
looked around, and bounded forward. Other old 
men followed him, and then the young men, and 
a miscellaneous lot of half-grown youngsters. 
The ladies brought up the rear, with the babies. 
These rode their mothers’ backs, clinging des¬ 
perately while they leaped along, for all the world 
like the pathetic monkey “ jockeys ” one sees 
strapped to the backs of big dogs in circuses. 
When they had approached to within fifty yards, 
I remarked “ hullo ! ” to them. Instantly they 
all stopped. Those in front stood up on their 
hind legs; those behind clambered to points of 
vantage on rocks and the tops of small bushes. 
They all took a good long look at me. Then 
they told me what they thought about me person¬ 
ally, the fact of my being there, and the rude way 
I had startled them. Their remarks were neither 
complimentary nor refined. The old men, in 
especial, got quite profane, and screamed excited 
billingsgate. Finally they all stopped at once, 
dropped on all fours, and loped away, their 
ridiculous long tails curved in a half arc. Then 
for the first time I noticed that, under cover of 
the insults, the women and children had silently 
retired. Once more I was left to the familiar 
gentle bird calls, and the vast silence of the 
wilderness beyond. 

The Land of Footprints. 1912. 




West Africa 

In my ignorance I took too little precaution 
against lions, though they were increasing in 
those parts, feeding on eland and smaller deer, 
but chiefly on Burchell's zebra, or quagga as it 
was commonly called. Yet I never actually saw 
a lion, though I sometimes heard them snuffling 
and grunting at night not far away. I saw only 
one herd of zebra (a beautiful vision !), and came 
near only one family of elephants, who made deep 
holes in a dry river-bed at night, and finding 
water, celebrated their joy with a family romp, 
flinging the water over each other, stamping their 
huge feet on the sand, devouring the honey-sweet 
flowers of the aloe, and forcing a road through the 
forest, careless of their tracks. Leopards were 
common, but remained unseen. Various buck 
and antelopes were plentiful, and, happily for our 
dinners, so were francolins (red-legged partridges), 
and guinea-fowl, hard to shoot by day because 
they set sentries and run like battalions in defeat, 
but are often to be caught roosting on trees at 
night. Eagles, bustards, parrots, weaver-birds, 
and many other kinds abounded, and very 


noticeable in early morning was a dove that sang 
an almost perfect minor scale, running sadly 
downward as though to utter the universal mourn¬ 
ing of creation, there was also a large hombill 
whose hollow booming was said to presage rain, 
and certainly rain fell at times as though emptied 
from immeasurable slop-pails. 

It was the wet season, but for the first six or 
eight days and nights we had to trek through a 
dry country of bare hill and valley, where no rain 
ever falls, and the oxen struggle onward, chiefly 
by night, exerting all their strength as knowing 
the danger. Only at intervals one sees and smells 
patches of damp sulphuric ground; or one may 
find a dribble of water by digging twelve feet 
down. But for the rest of the journey I was never 
entirely without water for a day and night, at all 
events after we had climbed the long mountain 
ridge, vaguely called Humpata, rising to nearly 
5,000 feet above the sea and forming the approach 
to the great central plateau which sheds the 
Zambesi with its tributaries south and east into 
the Indian Ocean, and the Kassai and other 
tributaries into the Congo and South Atlantic, 
while the Cuanza has cut a passage north-west 
direct into the sea. When we had cleared the dry 
country, water was, in fact, our chief obstacle. 
But the wagon would sometimes stick, and 
sometimes slide down a steep place, rolling on to 
the top of the oxen, or threatening to swing side¬ 
ways and turn right over. Those were the 
moments of extreme peril, when one has not time 
to think of danger or of death, but can only do 
the right thing as though by some ancestral 
memory, inherited through incalculable ages. 


Dangerous also were the deep pools beside the 
track that the immigrant Boers call “ slaughter 
holes.” These the oxen, who love to wallow in 
liquid mud all day when loose, avoid like the pit 
of hell when harnessed up, and rather than risk 
sliding into them they will screw the wagon 
sideways into the forest, confusing the whole 
team, and often knocking off their own horns 
against the trees, causing terrible agony. One 
drives the team only by calling the names of the 
four last oxen, always chosen for their experience 
and good sense. If you want to steer the wagon 
to the right, you call on the two oxen on the left 
side of each couple, and they push hard against 
the yokes with their shoulders, thus swinging the 
wagon to the right. You call on the opposite two 
on the right if you want the wagon to swing to the 
left. It is exactly like coaxing a rudderless eight. 
And that is how you progress hour after hour in 
ceaseless watchfulness, unless you condescend 
to use a Kaffir boy to act as “ toe-lead." But 
neither the calling of their names nor the “ toe- 
lead ” is of any avail if the oxen think they are 
going to get their feet wet in a " slaughter hole.” 
Nor will an ox work when it rains, for fear of 
getting a sore hump—so very depressing! 

Another idiosyncrasy of the trek ox is his 
passion for salt. If you do not give him an 
occasional lick of salt, his teeth drop out, and so 
in the wagon we carried bags of rock-salt for his 
pleasure. I gave it as a Sunday treat, and by the 
way that the oxen came snuffling round the place 
where the bags lay, I am convinced they knew 
when Sunday came as well as the Archbishop 
of Canterbury. But it is not really an idiosyn- 


crasy. All living creatures in that part of Africa 
pine for salt. There is salt in the sea, and there is 
salt in the salt-pans of Katanga, which the Bel¬ 
gians had closed as a trade monopoly, but I think 
there is none in the hundreds of miles between. 
Where we give a bun to children at a Sunday-school 
treat, a good kind missionary of Angola gives a 
pinch of rock-salt on a leaf. Put a little salt water 
on an open track, and in a few minutes it will be 
ablaze with gorgeous butterflies. The salt of 
sweat attracts all insects, just as it attracts horses 
when they bite each other. Once when I was 
going on foot, I thought to refresh myself after 
a long march by putting salt in my canvas bath. 
In no time my little tent swarmed with bees, and 
when I got out of the water I was covered with 
them from head to foot, all sucking salt as they 
suck honey with Ariel in England. Next morning 
I laid sugar, condensed milk, and a bag of salt 
side by side, and waited. A few bees came to the 
sugar, a few more to the condensed milk, but the 
bag of salt was so thickly covered that I could see 
no spaces between the bodies of the bees, and 
could stroke them down as one can stroke them 
when they swarm. Is it possible that this passion 
for salt is inherited with a dim memory of that 
immortal sea in which all living things had their 
first being so many million ages ago ? Perhaps it 
is not only man who sings with the poet: 

“ I will go back to the great sweet mother. 
Mother and lover of men, the sea.” 1 

Where no salt was to be had, the Chibokwe women 
burnt a marsh-grass into a potash powder as 

1 Swinburne: “ The Triumph of Time.” 



substitute. Among the Chibokwe also I found 
that salt was by far the best small change, the 
next best thing being safety-pins to fasten their 
little loin-cloths. Beads were out of fashion, and 
“ cloth ” (i.e. lengths of calico from Portugal, or, 
the best, from Manchester) served for large 
currency; but if a native squatted down in front 
of me, put out a long pink tongue and stroked it 
appealingly with a finger, I knew it was salt he 
wanted for a tip. 

With the wagon I trekked through January and 
February chiefly across the forest plateau which 
culminates in a wet and bare plain called Bourru- 
Bourru by the natives, who also call the top of a 
bald man's head his Bourru-Bourru. New every 
morning were the troubles—the drenching rain, the 
straying oxen, the crooked axle that had to be 
hammered out in an extemporised furnace, the 
turbulent river over which we swam the oxen, 
sailed the bed of the wagon as a raft, and dragged 
the wheels with the oxen’s chain. Five rivers had 
to be crossed before we reached the upland 
vaguely marked as Bihe on the maps. On the 
way we passed a few deserted villages, but hardly 
any inhabitant, the natives having removed, 
chiefly in fear of the slave-trade ; for they lived 
in perpetual dread of being sold or seized and 
carried off to San Thome— Okalunga, or the 
" abyss of hell ” as they called it. But we passed 
a French Catholic monastery or mission at 
Caconda, where a few Fathers were trying to 
instruct native boys in useful arts such as car¬ 
pentry, sometimes redeeming the boys from the 
slavers at their own expense. And we passed the 
important Portuguese fort of Belmonte, and the 


central depot of the Companhia National at 
Cayala, where slaves and other goods might be 
purchased. From there I walked northward 
through wet but fairly open country to an English 
Mission Station of Plymouth Brethren at Ochil- 
onda, where I found F. S. Arnot, a missionary of 
long experience, and an explorer whose name will 
be recorded in African history for his work in the 
Garagantze region and his discovery of the 
Zambesi’s upper course. I also walked south to 
Kamundongo, where the “ American Board ” had 
a small Mission under F. C. Wellman, who had 
acquired great knowledge of native customs and 
folklore. I think that Mission was Congregation- 
alist, and so was the other Mission I advanced to 
in the wagon a few days later—the station at 
Chisamba, conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Currie and 
Mr. and Mrs. Moffat, all Americans. Besides two 
Roman Catholic Missions that I saw, there were 
about eight in all, and it was remarkable that 
nearly all the workers were Americans. Even the 
two solitary men whom I found far away beyond 
Mashiko, in their little hut at Chinjamba, though 
working for the British Plymouth Brethren, were 
themselves Americans and had studied medicine 
(that excellent basis for the conversion of natives) 
in American hospitals. Eight, or even ten. 
Mission Stations are not much for a country four 
times the size of Great Britain and Ireland 
together. But few though they were, the mis¬ 
sionaries exercised some influence for good. 
Amid traders and planters whose very existence 
depended upon violence, deceit, and slavery, here 
were white men who kept their word, dealt 
honestly, and put the native’s gain before their 


own. From end to end of Africa a white man’s 
honesty is rarer than diamonds or gold, but 
missionaries maintain a tradition of its existence. 

Criticism of missionaries is easy and common! 
It was surprising to hear a grown man teaching 
intelligent natives the Book of Genesis as literal 
history. It was almost painful when an intelligent 
native asked what would have happened if Adam 
had refused to eat the apple. It was bewildering 
to be informed that the Russo-Japanese war was 
accurately foretold in the Book of Daniel. It was 
perplexing to witness the marriage of a converted 
chief to one of his numerous wives, while the others 
stood round with his twenty-four children and 
joined in the equivalent to " The Voice that 
breathed o’er Eden.” But I do not care to criti¬ 
cize people whose kindness to myself was so 
unbounded, and hospitality so ungrudging, though 
sometimes the limit of their own food was almost 
reached, even to the last bag of black beans and 
a few tea-leaves, already used more than once. 
Only those who have lived as I did for weeks 
together among the dirt and cursing of ox-wagons, 
or have tramped with none but savages far through 
deserts wet or dry, have been plunged in slime 
or consumed with thirst, worn down with fever 
and poisoned by invisible insects, could appreciate 
what it means to come at last into a Mission 
Station, to hear the quiet and pleasant voices, 
and feel again that sense of inward peace which 
is said to be a reward of holy living. I stayed 
three weeks at Chisamba, and many days at two 
other Mission Stations, and often when I went to 
bed, I used to think to myself: “ Here I actually 
am, free from hunger and thirst, in a silent room, 


with a real bed and real sheets; but people at 
home probably picture me dying in the depths 
of a dismal forest while pygmies sharpen their 
poisoned arrows and make their saucepans ready, 
or a lion stands rampant on one side of me, and, 
on the other side, a unicorn.” 

It is true that all the missionaries, knowing by 
experience the dangers of my business, used, 
morning and evening, to pray for my deliverance, 
and that was rather embarrassing, rather depress¬ 
ing. But, after all, it was very polite of them, 
and I was never the worse for their prayers. 
Besides, as the transport-rider refused to take 
his oxen farther than Chisamba, the Mission there 
spent much trouble in collecting a little band of 
sixteen carriers to complete my journey inland— 
half of them to carry my tent, food, and kit, and 
the young boys to carry such food as the others 
wanted for themselves. That is how young 
carriers are trained by degrees till they will carry 
an average load of sixty pounds on their heads 
for a long day’s march. For their own advantage 
they will take as much as ioo lb., or even 120 lb. 
They balance the loads, tightly fastened, between 
two long sticks, and when my loads were ready 
tied up and set in a row, the carriers at a given 
word charged for them, all making at full speed 
for the food loads, because they knew those would 
grow lighter day by day. 

So we started in file from Chisamba, all on foot, 
and on the third day we crossed the Cuanza, there 
about the breadth of the Thames at Windsor, 
but much swifter, and full of hippos. A per¬ 
manent ferry of narrow dug-outs took us over for 
the payment of four yards of “ cloth.’* On the 

( 4 , 297 ) 87 7 


farther bank we entered the “ Hungry Country ” 
—a long stretch of deserted or uninhabited land, 
sandy for the most part, but well watered and 
covered with trees. It was said that even animal 
could not live there, but I found plenty of ante¬ 
lopes, porcupines, wart-hogs, and other beasts, 
and at night the leopards snuffed and grunted 
and roared around us as usual. The country was 
believed to lie under a curse, and I could give no 
other reason for its desertion. 

For myself, throughout my long journey on 
foot, like all hungry men (in Chitral or Ladysmith, 
for instance) I was constantly imagining the de¬ 
light of a London restaurant. At one Portuguese 
trading-station I bought a few tins of English 
preserved meat, left there, I suppose, by a previous 
British traveller who had died. They were tainted 
with age, but every day on the march I used to 
wonder whether I could afford to enjoy an English 
tin that night. And yet some people have said 
I am no true patriot! 

My carriers apportioned their food for the dis¬ 
tance very carefully, and if one of them fell sick 
or failed the others drove him along with whips 
or their small axes. But if a slave failed or dropped 
he was murdered at once, and skeletons that I 
found along the route clearly showed the gash 
made in the skull by the axe. The whole length 
of the path was strewn with white bones—the 
bones of slaves, for slaves are not buried, but free 
carriers are. The bushes on each side of the path 
were hung with wooden shackles, which had 
clamped the hands or feet of the dead slaves at 
night and now were useless, or were cast aside 
when the traders had passed the greater part of 


the Hungry Country and knew that escape of the 
slaves was impossible. From end to end the 
narrow path—so narrow that one must bring one 
foot round in front of the other, like a native or 
a baboon—was a road of death. My little party 
walked quickly, but the passage took us nine days. 
In the midst of it, one clear night, I saw the tail 
of the Great Bear twisting round above the 
northern horizon, and I knew that just out of 
sight were two big stars still pointing to the 

More Changes, More Chances. 1925. 


Among the Beduins 

Now longwhile our black booths had been built 
upon the sandy stretches, lying before the swelling 
white Nefud side: the lofty coast of Irn&n in 
front, whose cragged breaches, where is any 
footing for small herbs nourished of this barren 
atmosphere, are the harbour of wild goats, which 
never drink. The summer's night at end, the 
sun stands up as a crown of hostile flames from 
that huge covert of inhospitable sandstone bergs; 
the desert day dawns not little and little, but it is 
noontide in an hour. The sun, entering as a tyrant 
upon the waste landscape, darts upon us a torment 
of fiery beams, not to be remitted till the far-off 
evening. No matins here of birds; not a rock 
partridge-cock, calling with blithesome chuckle 
over the extreme waterless desolation. Grave is 
that giddy heat upon the crown of the head; 
the ears tingle with a flickering shrillness, a subtle 
crepitation it seems, in the glassiness of this sun- 
stricken nature: the hot sand-blink is in the 
eyes, and there is little refreshment to find in the 
tents’ shelter; the worsted booths leak to this 
fiery rain of sunny light. Mountains looming like 


dry bones through the thin air, stand far around 
about us: the savage flank of Ybba Moghrair, 
the high spire and ruinous stacks of el-JeMl, 
Chebad, the coast of Helw&n. Herds of the weak 
nomad camels waver dispersedly, seeking pasture 
in the midst of this hollow fainting country, where 
but lately the swarming locusts have fretted every 
green thing. This silent air burning about us, we 
endure breathless till the late afternoon: when the 
dazing Arabs in the tents revive after their heavy 
hours. The lingering day draws down to the sun¬ 
setting ; the herdsmen, weary of the sun, come 
again with the cattle, to taste in their menzils the 
first sweetness of mirth and repose. The day is 
done, and there rises the nightly freshness of this 
purest mountain air: and then to the cheerful 
song and the cup at the common fire. The moon 
rises ruddy from that solemn obscurity of jebel 
like a mighty beacon : and the morrow will be as 
this day, days deadly drowned in the sun of the 
summer wilderness. 

The rugged country eastward, where we came 
in another remove, was little known to our 
Beduins ; only an elder generation had wandered 
there : and yet they found even the lesser waters. 
We journeyed forth in high plains (the altitude 
always nearly 4,000 feet) and in passages, stretching 
betwixt mountain cliffs of sandstone, cumbered 
with infinite ruins of fallen crags, in whose eternal 
shadows we built the booths of a day. One of 
these quarters of rock had not tumbled perhaps 
in a human generation ; but they mark years of 
the sun, as the sand, a little thing in the lifetime 
of the planet. 

The short spring season is the only refreshment 


of the desert year. Beasts and men swim upon 
this prosperous tide ; the cattle have their fill of 
sweet pasture, butter-milk is in the booths of the 
Arab; but there was little or none in Zeyd’s 
tent. The kids and lambs stand all tied, each little 
neck in a noose, upon a ground line which is 
stretched in the nomad booth. At day-break the 
bleating younglings are put under the dams, and 
each mother receives her own (it is by the scent)— 
she will put by every other. When the flock is led 
forth to pasture, the little ones are still bound at 
home ; for following the dams, they would drink 
dry the dugs, and leave no food for the Arabs. 
The worsted tent is full all day of small hungry 
bleatings, until the ghrannem come home at 
evening, when they are loosed again, and run to 
drink, butting under the mother’s teats, with their 
wiggle tails; and in these spring weeks, there 
is little rest for their feeble cries, all night in 
the booths of the Arab: the housewives draw 
what remains of the sweet-milk after them. The 
Wahab tribes of these open highlands are camel- 
Beduins ; the small cattle are few among them: 
they have new sprung milk when their hinds have 
calved. The yeaning camel-cow, lying on her 
side, is delivered without voice, the fallen calf 
is big as a grown man: the herdsman stretches 
out its legs with all his might, and draws the 
ca lf, as dead, before the dam. She smells her 
young, rises and stands upon her feet to lick it 
over. With a great clap the man’s palm upon that 
homy sole, z 6 ra (which, like a pillar, Nature had 
set under the camel's breast, to bear up the huge 
back), the calf revives: at three hours' end, yet 
feeble and tottering, and after many faClls, it is 


able to stand reaching up the long neck and feeling 
for the mother’s teat. The next morrow this new¬ 
born camel will follow to the field with the dam. 
The cow may be milked immediately, but that 
which is drawn from her for a day or two is pur¬ 
gative. The first voice of the calf is a sheep-like 
complaint, bdh-bdh, loud and well sounding. The 
fleece is silken soft, the head round and high ; and 
this with a short body, borne arch-wise, and a 
leaping gait upon so long legs, makes that, a little 
closing the eyes, you might take them for fledglings 
of some colossal bird. Till twelve months be out 
they follow the teat; but when a few weeks old 
they begin, already, to crop for themselves the 
tops of the desert bushes : and their necks being 
not yet of proportionate reach, it is only betwixt 
the straddled fore legs that they can feed at the 
ground. One evening, as I stroked the soft 
woolly chines of the new-born camels, “ Khalil! 
said the hind (coming with a hostile face), see 
thou do no more so—they will be hide-bound and 
not grow well; thou knowest not this!” He 
thought the stranger was about some maleficence; 
but Zeyd, whose spirit was far from all superstition, 
with an easy smile appeased him, and they were 
his own camels. 

The camel calf at the birth is worth a real, and 
every month rises as much in value. In some 
“weak” households the veal is slaughtered, 
where they must drink themselves all their camel 
milk. The bereaved dam wanders, lowing softly, 
and smelling for her calf; and as she mourns, you 
shall see her deer-like pupils, say the Arabs, 
“ standing full of tears.” Other ten days and 
her brutish distress is gone over to forgetfulness ; 



she will feed again full at the pasture, and yield 
her foster milk to the Arab. Then three good 
pints may be drawn from her at morning, and as 
much to their supper : the udder of these huge 
frugal animals is not greater than I have seen the 
dugs of Malta goats. A milch cow with the calf 
is milked only at evening. Her udder has four 
teats, which the southern nomads divide thus: 
two they tie up with a worsted twine and wooden 
pegs, for themselves, the others they leave to the 
suckling. The Arab of the north make their 
camel udders sure with a worsted bag-netting. 
Upon a journey, or when she is thirsting, the 
naga’s milk is lessened to the half. All their 
nagas give not milk alike. Whilst the spring milk 
is in, the nomads nourish themselves of little else. 
In poorer households it is all their victual those 
two months. The Beduins drink no whole-milk, 
save that of their camels; of their small cattle 
they drink but the butter-milk. The hareem make 
butter, busily rocking the (blown) sour milk- 
skin upon their knees. In the plenteous northern 
wilderness the semily is greater; and is hanged 
to be rocked in the fork of a robust bearing-stake 
of the nomad tent. As for this milk-diet, I find 
it, by proof in the Beduin life, to be the best of 
human food. But in every nomad menzil, there 
are some stomachs, which may never well bear 
it; and strong men using this sliding drink- 
meat feel always an hungry disease in their 
bodies; though they seem in never so good 
plight. The Beduins speak thus of the several 
kinds of milk: " Goat milk is sweet, it fattens 
more than strengthens the body; ewe’s milk 
very sweet, and fattest of all, it is unwholesome 


to drink whole : ” so they say, “ it kills people,” 
that is, with the colic. In spite of their saws, I 
have many times drunk it warm from the dug, 
with great comfort of languishing fatigue. It is 
very rich in the best samn; ewe butter-milk 
“ should be let sour somewhile in the semily, with 
other milk, till all be tempered together, and then 
it is fit to drink.” Camel milk is they think the 
best of all sustenance, and that most (as lightly 
purgative) of the bukkra, or young naga with her 
first calf. . . . The goat and n§ga milk savour of 
the plants where the cattle are pastured; in some 
cankered grounds I have found it as wormwood. 
One of those Allayda sheykhs called to me in the 
rahla, “ Hast thou not some Damascus kaak 
(biscuit cakes) to give me to eat ? wellah, it is six 
weeks since I have chewed anything with the 
teeth; all our food is now this flood of milk. 
Seest thou not what is the Beduins’ life ; they 
are like game scattered in all the wilderness.” 
Another craved of me a handful of dates; “ with 
this milk, only, he felt such a creeping hunger 
within him.” Of any dividing food with them 
the Beduins keep a kindly remembrance; and 
when they have aught will call thee heartily 

Arabia Deserta. 1888. 



War in the Desert 

Noon brought a fresh care. Through my power¬ 
ful glasses we saw a hundred Turkish soldiers 
issue from Mudowwara Station and make straight 
across the sandy plain towards our place. They 
were coming very slowly, and no doubt unwillingly, 
for sorrow at losing their beloved midday sleep: 
but at their very worst marching and temper they 
could hardly take more than two hours before 
they reached us. 

We began to pack up, preparatory to moving 
off, having decided to leave the mine and its leads 
in place on chance that the Turks might not find 
them, and we be able to return and take advantage 
of all the careful work. We sent a messenger 
to our covering party on the south, that they 
should meet us farther up, near those scarred 
rocks which served as screen for our pasturing 

Just as he had gone, the watchman cried out 
that smoke in clouds was rising from Hallat 
Ammar. Zaal and I rushed uphill and saw by its 
shape and volume that indeed there must be a 
train waiting in that station. As we were trying 


to see it over the hill, suddenly it moved out in 
our direction. We yelled to the Arabs to get into 
position as quick as possible, and there came a 
wild scramble over sand and rock. Stokes and 
Lewis, being booted, could not win the race; but 
they came well up, their pains and dvsentery 

. The men with rifles posted themselves in a long 
line behind the spur running from the guns past 
the exploder to the mouth of the valley. From 
it they would fire directly into the derailed 
carriages at less than one hundred and fifty yards, 
whereas the ranges for the Stokes and Lewis guns 
were about three hundred yards. An Arab stood 
up on high behind the guns and shouted to us 
what the train was doing—a necessary precaution, 
for if it carried troops and detrained them behind 
our ridge we should have to face about like a flash 
and retire fighting up the valley for our lives. 
Fortunately it held on at all the speed the two 
locomotives could make on wood fuel. 

It drew near where we had been reported, and 
opened random fire into the desert. I could hear 
the racket coming, as I sat on my hillock by the 
bridge to give the signal to Salem, who danced 
round the exploder on his knees, crying with 
excitement, and calling urgently on God to make 
him fruitful. The Turkish fire sounded heavy, 
and I wondered with how many men we were 
going to have affair, and if the mine would be 
advantage enough for our eighty fellows to equal 
them. It would have been better if the first 
electrical experiment had been simpler. 

However, at that moment the engines, looking 
very big, rocked with screaming whistles into view 


around the bend. Behind them followed ten box- 
wagons, crowded with rifle-muzzles at the win¬ 
dows and doors ; and in little sand-bag nests on 
the roofs Turks precariously held on, to shoot at 
us. I had not thought of two engines, and on the 
moment decided to fire the charge under the 
second, so that however little the mine’s effect, 
the uninjured engine should not be able to un¬ 
couple and drag the carriages away. 

Accordingly, when the front “ driver ” of the 
second engine was on the bridge, I raised my hand 
to Salem. There followed a terrific roar, and the 
line vanished from sight behind a spouting 
column of black dust and smoke a hundred feet 
high and wide. Out of the darkness came shatter¬ 
ing crashes and long, loud metallic dangings of 
ripped steel, with many lumps of iron and plate ; 
while one entire wheel of a locomotive whirled 
up suddenly black out of the cloud against the 
sky, and sailed musically over our heads to fall 
slowly and heavily into the desert behind. Except 
for the flight of these, there succeeded a deathly 
silence, with no cry of men or rifle-shot, as the 
now grey mist of the explosion drifted from the 
line towards us, and over our ridge until it was 
lost in the hills. 

In the lull, I ran southwards to join the ser¬ 
geants. Salem picked up his rifle and charged 
out into the murk. Before I had climbed to the 
guns the hollow was alive with shots, and with 
the brown figures of the Beduin leaping forward 
to grips with the enemy. I looked round to see 
what was happening so quickly, and saw the train 
stationary and dismembered along the track, with 
its wagon sides jumping under the bullets which 


riddled them, while Turks were falling out from 
the far doors to gain the shelter of the railway 

As I watched, our machine-guns chattered out 
over my head, and the long rows of Turks on the 
carriage roofs rolled over, and were swept off the 
top like bales of cotton before the furious shower 
of bullets which stormed along the roofs and 
splashed clouds of yellow chips from the planking. 
The dominant position of the guns had been an 
advantage to us so far. 

When I reached Stokes and Lewis the engage¬ 
ment had taken another turn. The remaining 
Turks had got behind the bank, here about eleven 
feet high, and from cover of the wheels were 
firing point-blank at the Beduin twenty yards 
away across the sand-filled dip. The enemy in 
the crescent of the curving line were secure from 
the machine-guns ; but Stokes slipped in his first 
shell, and after a few seconds there came a crash 
as it burst beyond the train in the desert. 

He touched the elevating screw, and his second 
shot fell just by the trucks in the deep hollow 
below the bridge where the Turks were taking 
refuge. It made a shambles of the place. The 
survivors of the group broke out in a panic 
across the desert, throwing away their rifles and 
equipment as they ran. This was the opportunity 
of the Lewis gunners. The sergeant grimly 
traversed with drum after drum, till the open 
sand was littered with bodies. Mushagraf, the 
Sherari boy behind the second gun, saw the battle 
over, threw aside his weapon with a yell, and 
dashed down at speed with his rifle to join the 
others who were beginning, like wild beasts, to 


tear open the carriages and fall to plunder. It 
had taken nearly ten minutes. 

I looked up-line through my glasses and saw 
the Mudowwara patrol breaking back uncertainly 
towards the railway to meet the train-fugitives 
running their fastest northward. I looked south, 
to see our thirty men cantering their camels neck 
and neck in our direction to share the spoils. 
The Turks there, seeing them go, began to move 
after them with infinite precaution, firing volleys. 
Evidently we had a half-hour respite, and then a 
double threat against us. 

I ran down to the ruins to see what the mine 
had done. The bridge was gone ; and into its 
gap was fallen the front wagon, which had been 
filled with sick. The smash had killed all but 
three or four, and had rolled dead and dying into 
a bleeding heap against the splintered end. One 
of those yet alive deliriously cried out the word 
typhus. So I wedged shut the door, and left 
them there, alone. 

Succeeding wagons were derailed and smashed: 
some had frames irreparably buckled. The second 
engine was a blanched pile of smoking iron. Its 
driving wheels had been blown upward, taking 
away the side of the fire-box. Cab and tender 
were twisted into strips, among the piled stones 
of the bridge abutment. It would never run 
again. The front engine had got off better: 
though heavily derailed and lying half-over, with 
the cab burst, yet its steam was at pressure, and 
driving-gear intact. 

Seven Pillars of Wisdom . 

Privately printed, 1926. First published, 1935. 




Open Boats in the Indian Ocean 

The observation at noon showed that we had 
passed, and were slightly to the north of the 
parallel of latitude 19 deg. 55 min. S., along which 
I had agreed with Mr. Smith to sail, in order to 
reach the Mauritius group, and accordingly our 
course was altered to west true. 

This was to be our course until we made a land¬ 
fall, but naturally, wind and weather and the 
difficulty of judging from the sun and stars the 
exact direction to be steered, caused us to run 
to the north or south of it at times, so that the 
actual course steered was but seldom due west. 

Sometimes the boat must have presented a 
motley appearance, for whenever the weather was 
fine enough we were all in various stages of un¬ 
dress. Articles of clothing of every description 
would be lying about in the boat where they could 
catch the rays of the sun or find a little bit of breeze 
to dry them, and others would be hanging from 
the backstays and around the mast. The effect 
was not exactly decorative, but we were very glad 
if at the end of the day when we put the things 
on again they were only damp. 



We had a platform of lifebelts in the bottom 
of the boat on the port side, in the section kept 
free for baling, to place the tins of biscuits on, as 
this appeared to be the place where they would be 
least subject to damage. In spite of this, however, 
and although the greatest care was taken, they all 
got very much battered. A lurch of the boat and 
the man who was baling might be thrown ag ains t 
them, or the same thing might happen while the 
rations were being passed along, or again when 
men tried to take up the best positions for catch¬ 
ing rain water. It was not much wonder that these 
tins suffered and that we lost a considerable 
amount of biscuits. The damage to the biscuits 
was caused by the sea water getting into the tins. 

During the battering these tins got, the edges 
of some of them were started, in some cases not 
sufficiently to be apparent to us until we came to 
open them, and we always opened the most 
battered-looking first. We were unable to keep 
them covered, for the only covering in the boat, the 
canvas boat cover which had been mentioned be¬ 
fore, was wanted, especially at night, to give some 
degree of shelter to and keep the life in the men. 

One of the accidents of this eventful voyage 
cost us dear. Two or three days after leaving 
the ship,. in hammering up the screw-cap of one 
of the biscuit tanks, the screw-cap broke away, 
making this tank no longer air- or water-tight. 
The biscuits from it had to be used first, and we 
packed as many as possible into the other biscuit 
tank, which was kept till the last. If that tank 
had not been damaged, we could have refilled 
it from the tins and should probably have lost 
very little or none of our stock. We had to pay 


a pretty big price for the little bit of extra energy 
used in hammering up that screw-cap, but as 
things turned out the loss of the biscuits did not 
materially affect our condition. 

When issuing the water ration the greatest care 
was always taken that no spray would get into 
the bung-hole of the water breaker, which was 
open at the time. The bungs always had a piece 
of cloth round them to make them fit tight, and 
some one was always sitting by the breaker ready 
to put the bung in or cover the bung-hole as soon 
as there was any sign of spray coming over. On 
one occasion, when the weather was very bad 
and the spray was continually lashing across the 
boat, we dropped the sail and lay to while the 
rations was being issued, and we did not consider 
the time wasted, for the loss of even a pint of our 
precious fresh water would have been a calamity. 

This fourteenth day was mostly spent in drying 
our clothes in the sun, and rubbing sore feet with 
storm oil, but using the oil sparingly. Some of 
the crew suffered a lot from pain in the feet, 
which was probably caused by defective circula¬ 
tion of the blood in them, and these experienced 
great relief from rubbing their feet with oil. This 
was another bit of useful knowledge that I had 
gained in my previous boating excursion, when 
we all suffered considerably from frostbite or 
“ trench feet.” My feet on that previous occasion 
had swollen until they were large round balls, 
and I believe it was due to my rubbing them 
with oil, and to the time I spent chafing them 
with my hands, that I was saved from losing toes, 
as a good many did on that occasion. 

In addition to rubbing our feet with oil we 
(4,297) 103 8 


warmed them as much as we could in the sun, 
and occasionally gave them a good rubbing. 
Except that our feet were swollen and very tender 
for a good while afterwards, we suffered no after¬ 
effects in this respect. Some of the crew were 
suffering from salt-water boils. 

On this day, too, I was about to throw over¬ 
board a small dressing-case, now reduced almost 
to pulp from being continually saturated with 
water, into which I had put some biscuits which 
had previously been damaged by sea water, when 
T. Gomez (fireman) thought he would like the 
case for future use (!!!). I gave it to him and 
told him to throw out the contents. In cleaning 
these out he discovered a comb, buttonhook, and 
nail file, which he washed and passed aft, thinking 
they would be more useful to me than to him. 
The comb was put into immediate use and 
handed round to all in the boat, every one using 
it, and thoroughly enjoying the sprucing up. It 
was particularly pleasant to get the salt out of 
our hair. 

This dressing-case and the suit-case previously 
mentioned had been filled with clothes on leav¬ 
ing the Trevessa, and the contents proved very 
welcome to those who left the ship scantily clad, 
and would have suffered very severely from the 
cold without the extra covering I was able to 

Another leather case, containing certain ship’s 
papers and the men’s discharge books, was small 
enough to be placed in the locker in the stem of 
the boat, and also proved valuable as a repository 
for small personal belongings and papers which 
the men entrusted to my care. 



June 18— 

Fresh S.E. trades and high sea. Carrying on under 
same conditions. Still a bit squally, but sky looking 
better. Hope will have more moderate trades. 
Could make better progress with less sea. Had a 
much better night than last night. No one sleeping 
much. Not much room to kick about. AH hands 
pretty well battered. Lips cracked previously, but 
have healed up since we had the heavy rain. Mouth 
still horrible with white slime. 

8 a.m .—Issued milk and biscuit ration. Had a bad 
headache for the last twenty-four hours, but easing 
off a bit now. 

Noon. —Lat. 19 deg. 41 min. S. Made course W. 
true. Issued milk ration. Forenoon strong S.E. trades 
and rough sea. Making good headway. Afternoon 
weather moderating. Strong S.E. trades but much 
less sea. Making good progress west true. 

4 p.m .—Issued milk ration. 

5 p.m .—Weather moderating. Shook out goose- 
wings. Single reef now. Doing well. 

11 p.m .—Fierce squall, dropped sail (catching rain). 
Steering before wind and sea under bare pole. 

11.30 p.m .—Squall passed. Up sail and proceeded. 
To-day had all rowlocks removed and passed aft. 

By the fifteenth day all hands were very much 
the worse for wear, but sticking it well except for 
the two who eventually died. We all seemed to 
be wearing very much alike, but I was very 
much afraid that a few of the less robust of the 
crew would collapse suddenly. My headache was 
due to my eyes, and caused by constantly look¬ 
ing at the sun while I was steering, in order to 
keep it on the proper bearing for making a good 

It will be noticed that every time we were 
caught in a squall we dropped the sail. There 
were various reasons for doing this, the most 


important of all being that everybody in the boat 
could devote their whole time to catching rain 
water. Had we kept the sail up, one man 's 
whole attention would have been required, stand¬ 
ing by the halyards, and others might have got 
in the way of the sheet and impeded whoever 
was handling the boat. Moreover, we could not 
afford to take very big risks with the gear. Our 
case was a proposition altogether different from 
sailing the boat in a race, when there would be 
other crews all round to render assistance in case 
of an accident happening. What caused us the 
greatest concern throughout was the shortage 
of fresh water. Had any serious accident hap¬ 
pened to the boat we might have had our fresh 
water spoilt by sea water getting into it, if 
nothing worse, and what would have been our 
position if we had suffered serious damage to the 
mast or sail? The reviving effect of the rain 
water caught was well worth the sacrifice of the 
few miles we lost in distance while the sail was 
down and we were catching it. 

The value of this water cannot be estimated by 
any except those who have had to go without it 
for a long time. In addition to the reviving effect 
it had upon us all, we wanted it badly to clean our 
mouths, which had been for some time thickly 
coated all round with white slime. The amount of 
water we obtained from time to time, even when 
it had been raining heavily, was never sufficient 
to do this thoroughly, or else the slime formed 
again so quickly that we were never entirely free 
of it. We spent quite a lot of time trying to get 
rid of it, and could scrape it easily off the tongue, 
and at times some even tried washing their mouths 


with salt water. All were strongly advised not 
to do this, as the temptation to swallow some of 
the cool water when it was in the mouth would he 
very hard to resist. 

The rowlocks were passed aft so that no 
weapons, or anything that could be used as a 
weapon, were left about the boat, except a couple 
of sheath knives and a small marlin-spike with 
the A.B.’s. I had this done merely as a pre¬ 
caution, and in order to be quite on the safe side, 
though all hands were quite cheerful and keeping 
perfect discipline. 

June 19— 

Midnight to 4 am .—Frequent fierce short squalls. 
Dropped sail during the squalls and steered before 
wind and sea under bare pole. All hands catching 
rain water. 

4 am. to 8 am .—Not much wind, but sea rising. 
Steep sea and squally weather. Light breeze between 
squalls. Sail reefed and goose-winged. Not making 
much headway between squalls. 

8 am .—Issued milk and biscuit ration. During 
forenoon strong S.E. trades and rough sea. Weather 
looking considerably better. Not squally. Sky clear. 

Noon. —Lat. 19 deg. 56 min. S. Issued milk ration. 
Afternoon strong S.E, trades and rough sea, making 
about W.S.W. truer Hope will make land soon. Not 
very satisfactory that we can't work up a position. 
We are on a latitude and will have to exercise patience 
till we have run it down to Rodriguez Island. If we 
could only have less sea so that we could put a bigger 
press of the sail on. Too risky as it is. The mast is 
none too safe. The heel has been lashed and shored 
up since the first day sailing. The tiller head was 
broken about the same time and that is lashed up, 
and the compass is useless. All the steering has been 
by sun and stars. 

4 p.m .—Issued milk ration. Should see something 
soon. Hope so. 



10 p.m .—Fierce squall. Dropped sail and steered 
before the wind and sea—bare pole. 

10.30 p.m .—Squall passed. Up sail and proceeded. 

11 p.m .—Fierce squall. Dropped sail. Rough sea. 

One of the things about which very little has 
been said hitherto was our stock of matches. It 
took us several days to learn that these would 
have to be very carefully nursed, but the lesson 
was learnt in time. To start with, several of us 
each had a box in our pockets, but with the 
soakings we got these boxes soon fell to pieces 
and the matches were spoilt. We were very lucky 
though that on the whole we lost very few of the 
matches. For the rest of the journey the only 
man who carried any matches in his pocket was 
Mr. Fair, who has a water-tight metal box, and 
another box was kept handy inside a cigarette 
tin. Great care was taken, too, in the way we 
used them, and it is wonderful how many lights 
you could get from one match. One match would 
light cigarettes for all cigarette smokers, who were 
in the majority, and one match, too, would light 
three pipes. We managed this by getting one 
pipe well alight and inverting it over another and 
drawing on the two together, perhaps tapping 
a little of the lighted tobacco into the second one. 
The same process was gone through for the third. 
It will be seen that in this way we could light an 
indefinite number of pipes from the one match, 
but all these operations had to be performed under 
the shelter of the canvas. 

On the sixteenth day the condition of the two 
firemen, M. Nagi and Jacob Ali, caused great 
aipdety. Efforts were made to liven them up, but 
with very little success. The continued soaking 


with salt water and also with rain, and the cold 
they necessarily suffered, was too much for them 
in their weakened condition. 

Owing to the continued drenchings, and the fact 
that the above two men were now very ill, all 
hands were very quiet, but still optimistic as to 
reaching land. We were now coming to the 
hardest part of the struggle, and it was a case of 
the survival of the fittest, not in the sense of every 
man for himself, but, though all were working 
together and a cheery word was always met with 
a smile, it was clear that it would be the physically 
and mentally fittest who would come through 

The gradual failing of the men’s strength was 
apparent as time went on in the amount of effort 
required in handling the sail. To start with, when 
the sheave was in good running order and the men 
were fresh, it was a comparatively easy task for 
one man to haul the sail up. Later on several 
men were needed to do it, and during the last 
few days after June 21, with the additional 
handicap of a dead sheave for the halyards to be 
pulled over, it required as many men as could lay 
on to the halyards. It was more their weight 
than their strength in pulling that got the sail up 
at all. 

For the last two days baths had been dis¬ 
continued. In our weakened state the weather 
seemed to us to be bitterly cold, much too cold 
for us to strip. We, however, still continued 
pouring water over our heads with the dipper. 

1700 Miles in Open Boats. 1924. 





We see to it in Ceylon that the ancient craft and 
mystery of pearling does not belie its name. 
Few outsiders know exactly where the banks are, 
and certainly we put up no beacons to encourage 
the inquisitive. A fishery happens when it 
happens, and that is all about it. It is generally 
understood that it is up to the official inspector 
to keep his weather eye open, prowl about the 
likeliest waters at the due season, which is to say 
November, lift a sample of at least 20,000 oysters, 
extract the pearls by the time-honoured process 
which I shall describe, and have their value 
assessed by that other ancient rite of the secret 
hand-clasp, which it should be noted here is the 
invariable procedure for pricing any gem in 
Ceylon, and nothing will induce a dealer engaged 
in any branch of the jewel trade to depart there¬ 
from. No words whatever are exchanged during 
the business. Buyer and seller, or it may be the 
two joint assessors, hold each other’s paw, cover 
hands and wrists with a cloth, some kind of 
masonic inter-communication ensues of which 
the nature is not apparent to the bystander, and 
the bargain is made or the price fixed. When a 


real transaction is effected, any stranger present 
has a right to a commission on the proceeds, 
presumably as the price of his silence. 

Obstinately, too, do the pearling fraternity cling 
to the old Portuguese or Dutch nomenclature 
throughout the " shop ” of their calling. Even 
the valuations just described are made in terms 
of the ancient coinage, and have to be reduced 
to pounds, shillings, and pence by Government. 
Once a fishery is declared to be worth while, word 
goes out to the scattered brotherhood of divers, 
who are assembled to a kind of base-camp and 
numbered off into two equal bodies. It is ex¬ 
hausting enough work, and a day off and a day on 
is the rule of the fishery. One-third of each man’s 
daily harvest is the immemorial due of every 
diver, and the gamble involved is just such as 
his Eastern soul delights in. Not that he is any 
pearl of honesty himself. A time-honoured dodge 
for beating the Government used to be for two 
men to conspire together, one of them having 
found a pearl of obvious value, the scheme being 
that the accomplice stole a small and valueless 
pearl and hid it, let us say, in his pants. He was 
then denounced with much vociferation and 
parade by his friend, the whole labour force 
stopped work and gathered round, and a tremen¬ 
dous hullabaloo ensued, while in the general 
confusion the arch-criminal got away well with 
the real plunder. The staff work here involved 
is also of a peculiarly Oriental character. 

The divers’ third share having been allotted, 
the oysters (pearl-bearing or otherwise, no one 
knows at present, so the thing still remains a 
gamble) are dumped straight upon the beach, and 


the Government auctions the remaining two- 
thirds of the catch each evening when the boats 
come in. Why the State should not continue to 
direct the whole business nobody knows, but that 
is the way we have always done the thing in Ceylon. 
The private buyers bear off their purchases to their 
own “ kottus ” or enclosures, and leave them to 
rot for a week or ten days in a canoe or any large 
receptacle, shielded from direct sunshine or strong 
light, but deliberately easy of access to the flies. 
Not unnaturally, they are not odours of Araby 
that are wafted from the pearling camps at this 
stage. Putrefaction being more or less complete, 
the whole mess is rinsed repeatedly in clean water, 
miscellaneous rubbish all removed, and the resi¬ 
due left to strain on a black cloth. From now 
onwards lynx-eyed attention is necessary to avoid 
wastage. You will observe, for example, the 
precaution of the black cloth. Again and again 
the stuff is gone through, and long after the 
fishery is over and all the genuine pearling folk 
have departed the wild jungle women of this 
desolate coast may be observed scratching in the 
sand for the almost invisible seed-pearls that in 
bulk are in enormous request on the mainland, 
alike for the ornamentation of rich embroideries 
and the supply of chanum (powdered lime for 
betel-chewing) for princes and other very parti¬ 
cular people who can afford such extravagances. 
But only the tiniest seed-pearls escape in this way, 
all other grades up to the size of an average pea 
or even larger being graded in colanders which 
ran from the finest sieve-mesh up to a strainer 
in which there may be twenty apertures within 
the circumference of an average-sized ash-tray. 



I must tell you, too, of the Manduck, who is by 
way of being an eponymous fraud. One Manduck 
is allotted to each five divers in a boat, of whom 
there are ten, who dive and rest alternately. But 
the Manduck never wets even the sole of his foot. 
His job it is to work the tackle, to see that all his 
five sinkers of shapely stone are firmly spliced 
to the ropes, and that these run freely over the 
outrigger contrivance which holds them clear of 
the gunwale. Standing on his stone, the diver 
takes the biggest breath he is capable of, gives the 
signal to his Manduck, and that his descent shall 
be the speedier, heaves himself into the air as the 
Manduck lets go the rope. When the pressure on 
the stone ceases the Manduck hauls up again at 
once, and makes all taut and trim again, for the 
diver wants no aid on his upward journey. 

Thus we did in the days of the Rajavali 
Chronicle, two thousand five hundred years ago, 
and precisely thus we do to-day. Steam launches 
have their uses for examination work and patrols, 
but in the actual process of oyster collection and 
the extraction of their precious freight we prefer 
not to adopt any of your scientific dodges. Some 
of them have been tried, and failed, European 
divers, for instance, in full panoply, whom our 
Tamil and Arab amphibians left standing. The 
only difference nowadays is that there is no Tamil 
Princess doing policewoman’s duty from a throne 
at the extremity of Karaitivu Point. Even that 
might be arranged, only it _ happens that the last 
three miles or so of the spit have gradually sub¬ 
merged since the Rajavali epoch, and telescopes, 
you will understand, are barred. 

Cinnamon and Frangifianni. 1923. 



Angkor, a Pilgrimage 

Buried away in the south-east corner of Siam 
in the Mekong basin, to the north of the inlan d 
sea of Tonle Sap, lie a forgotten city, and a temple, 
without doubt the greatest and most bpitiful 
in Asia. If the city were known to Engphmen 
its name would be on all men’s tongues, anonews- 
papers would profane it daily, calling all great 
and mysterious shrines the “ Angkor of the West ” 
or the “ Angkor of the New World,” as the case 
might be. But it has been spared the metonymic 
headline, though in France Angkor is a household 

Nearly ten years ago I made the pilgrimage to 
Angkor Wat. Landing at Tavoy I struck across 
the Burmese frontier, travelling by elephant to 
the Tennasserim River, then down stream in a 
dug-out canoe as far as Sinbyoodine. Here I 
left the river and struck west over that picturesque 
barrier of hills which divides Burma from Siam. 
Once over the frontier my Karen coolies began to 
desert, but in spite of their defection, a total 
ignorance of any language the people of the 
country could understand, and an equally com- 



plete bankruptcy in the currency of the realm— 
for the Indian rupees I took with me were not 
held good—I found myself in a few weeks in 
Bangkok. A crazy bullock-cart, some dug-out 
canoes, a sampan, and finally a steam-launch, 
were implicated in my arrival. I left the capital 
in a Siamese junk, which deposited me with other 
undesirables at the little mining port of Chanta- 
boun. Thence north on foot, with coolies for 
transport, to Phairin, a steamy basin in the hills, 
rich in sapphires and rubies, but famous for being 
the most malarious death-trap in the East. From 
Phairin northward again on horseback over a 
waterless country to Battambong, whence a 
sinuous little river of the same name winds into 
the Tonle Sap. I followed the stream into the 
great lake, traversed the north-west comer of it, 
then up another stream between an avenue of 
alders, or similar trees, burdened with flocks of 
brilliant aquatic birds, herons, kingfishers, adju¬ 
tants, flamingoes, and the like, who watched my 
progress with attentive tolerance to the village 
of Siem Rep and the very gates of Angkor. 

The journey was rough and devious. But now 
looking back on it the whole incident has taken 
a perfectly smooth perspective, like a long green 
drive in a wood with a glittering shrine at the 
end. That is Angkor’s doing. And though ten 
years have passed, the image I took away with me 
has not been, and could not have been, gilded in 
the interval. I should state this explicitly, for 
a journey is often bom of dreams and in the end 
reverts into them. The actual experience is a 
mere interlude; the dreams endure and become 
in time a very substantial fabric. Yet if we could 


look back on the past with clear eyes and see with¬ 
out illusions all that the alchemy of it has sprinkled 
over with gold-dust, we might well smile cynically. 
For, divested of this tinsel, the voyages we dwell 
upon most fondly have been sometimes the grim¬ 
mest of pilgrimages. All desert and remote places 
seem romantic in retrospect, but how many of 
them held any glamour when our ego and its 
needs were the centre and focus of them, when the 
immediate care was a dinner or transport for to¬ 
morrow ? 

And this glow that illumines so warmly the 
places won with the greatest toil in our huddled 
and confused memories of voyaging, like the sun 
lightening the highest peaks of a tumbled moun¬ 
tain chain, is not a phenomenon peculiar to travel, 
but a part of all experience. Everything acted and 
done with is transmuted by it, the more fondly 
as the severance is more complete. 

So it is not safe to review with any finality these 
wanderings beyond the outposts of civilization, 
and to say this place or the other was a paradise 
to end one's days in. For the figure of the sun 
on the mountains is true throughout. At day¬ 
break the snow-peaks are rose-tinted—that is, one 
grasps at a journey with eager hope. And in the 
day itself, be it bright or dull, there is the searching 
reality. Then at twilight this is all swept away 
and once more the peaks are rose-coloured, 
suffused with the glow of this alchemist, artist, 
optimist god, who transfigures everything except 
the instant “ Now.” 

But briefly the origin of travel is dreams. One 
is restless and toys with maps, one dreams dreams, 
takes some practical step and is committed. Some 


men are content to let their visions pass into the 
air like wreaths of smoke. Others, the fanatics 
of travel, are lured by them impulsively; they 
tread buoyantly these airy citadels. But to take 
a step to meet them is to accept their challenge ; 
after that there is no turning back. It is as if one 
had made a vow to a saint to build a shrine or 
make a pilgrimage in consideration of some re¬ 
prieve. It may be, to be delivered from the 
haunts of men similar to oneself, to be projected 
from this common place to that unknown and 
presumably desirable one. But whenever it be, 
the vow is binding to most honest fellows, who, 
sooner than they think, feel the flints grow sharp 
about their feet, and find that the only joy in the 
pilgrimage is the fierce exaltation of seeing it 

Nevertheless there are places in the East with 
a spell to which one must be instantly subject, 
places which can gain little from the alchemy I 
have spoken of. Hitt is one of these and Hilleh ; 
and there are Kenham and Lhasa and Pharijong 
and Kanburi, and many other strange and hidden 
places I could call to mind. But on me, as no 
doubt on any other white man who has seen it, 
Angkor Wat has exercised a greater spell than any 
place on earth. So that whenever I read of, or 
hear any casual talk of the “ call," " mystery,” or 
“ fascination ” of the East, I see Angkor at once 
with its deserted terraces and causeways and its 
extraordinary unimaginable secret, a splendid 
brave old ruin, showing no traces of any human 
meddling for the last thousand years, but fighting 
inch by inch its grim interminable battle of twenty 
centuries with the forest trees. 



And who could help being haunted by that slow- 
moving epic of which the protagonists are so 
Titanic, Angkor, and the sacred Ficus—Angkor, 
superb and aloof, with its incommunicable 
glories, a desolate survival of some great un¬ 
explained energies that have vanished from the 
earth ; and the Ficus tree, the shadows of whose 
branches, arched and embossed like a cathedral, 
have caressed the shrine for centuries, while its 
roots have spread their slow and secret ruin ? 
There are no witnesses of the struggle save the 
wild things and one or two sleepy priests; and 
the movement is so slow that one feels there can 
be no rancour in it, for nothing animate or con¬ 
scious, unless it be the wild elephants, can live 
long enough to mark any new victory to the 
destroyer. I like to feel, rather, that the Ficus 
has been visited on Angkor, and the caress of its 
shadow and the caress of its roots are such in¬ 
veterate associations, so dear to the lonely genius 
of the place, that the coming of any other agent 
of dissolution would be as distressing to Angkor 
as to its votaries. 

But I am dreaming, and if I am not cautious 
may be taken for a romancer in spite of my care 
to show how thoroughly on my guard I am against 
those refining snares of the memory that trick us 
so often into bearing false witness. I am too 
earnest a votary of Angkor not to resent any 
suggestion of additions; exaggeration would be 
as hateful as a tawdry modem flag hung on the 
battlements. I only wish to make it clear that 
while I was at Angkor I was then and there 
devoted to the place, and that no after visions 
have haloed round that first image; that as my 


feet were echoing on its age-worn flagstones I was 
feeling all the while, “ This is Angkor, a dream 
city, the most mysterious and vaguely eloquent 
place on earth ” : not “ Is this Angkor—is this 
all ? ” 

I slept in the ruins two moonlight nights. 
Directly the sun sank innumerable bats swept 
along the corridors with a rushing sound like a 
great wind. The smell of them was like some 
foetid incense to age and decay. Then when they 
were still I could hear the gentle stir of the palm 
leaves inside the walls. The moon had silvered 
them, and their rustle through some subtle fancy 
seemed softly metallic. Now and again an owl 
wailed hideously from a tree by the moat. I was 
once startled by a priest, seeing him before hearing 
him. The quiet old man glided with noiseless feet 
like a shadow. He lit a taper before a wooden 
image of Buddha, a thing perhaps not more than 
a hundred years old, part of the parasite worship 
of the place. He passed me without word or look ; 
even in daylight I was a thing outside his contem¬ 
plation. Then there were other noises, sounds 
without reason. I feared snakes. Surely the 
sacred cobra must coil here at night in the cool 
passages, where the Naga was reverenced cen¬ 
turies before the birth of Christ, where his image 
in stone, hood erect, guards the entrance of every 
sacred place. 

. By the main causeway, there was a bamboo 
zayat for pilgrims, where I, the most enduring 
of them, if miles traversed are held for merit, had 
cast my profane chattels. Here I turned to sleep, 
but lay half awake for hours spellbound, haunted 
by that fancy of the day, feeling that all round 
8»7) 119 9 


me the silent ceaseless battle was being waged, 
and seeming to hear some faint labouring of the 
stones, the gripping of the Titans, Angkor, and 
the sacred Ficus. 

And surely there is nothing outside Milton’s 
theme that is comparable in measure or import 
with this epic. What are the struggles of nations, 
conquest by the sword, sovereignty, subjection, 
throes of onset, beside the slow eternal wave of 
destiny symbolized here, that immutable in¬ 
different void, that in-drawing arc of oblivion 
which closes impartially on all strife and has 
numbered the years of the sun. 

At Angkor one can measure the encroachment 
more distinctly than is possible in countries which 
we call civilized, where small happenings as wars 
and revolutions distract us from universal truths. 
Here written and sculptured on the walls we can 
read the record of man’s pride, how five hundred 
years before the birth of Christ Prea-thong, son 
of the sovereign of Indrapat, now Delhi, revolted 
against his father, was defeated, and banished; 
then with his army of followers broke across 
the Southern continent, devastated, destroyed, 
created, and was only checked in his eastward 
course by the marshes of the Mekong Valley and 
the Tonle Sap. Here he conquered the Khomen, 
the then inhabitants of the country, and with them 
became merged in that extraordinary race which 
we now call the Kmers. But these Hindus, before 
the national type became assimilated and lost in 
this new race-blend, built the city of Angkor, and 
the temple which they dedicated to Siva, the 
destroyer, figuring him in their ignorance with 
thunderbolts and eyes of flame like a malignant 


fury, not understanding that shocks and violence 
are the least terrible energies of destruction. Yet 
perhaps if these old Brahmins could return and 
see this Angkor which they built and consecrated 
to one destroyer, crumbling at the hands of 
another, they might fashion a new god; and the 
Siva that the wisdom of the twentieth century 
would create might be more awful than the other, 
menacing with no penalties by which any imagin¬ 
able evils could be expiated, but passive as 
Buddha, relentless and expressionless as the 
illimitable void. 

But this Siva without fangs, the unseen im¬ 
palpable destroyer, would be a conception to 
paralyse all effort. So that if the Kmers had any 
presentment of such a god they would not have 
built Angkor; or they would have built it sadly, 
knowingly, without pride, as one might say, 
“ Accept this our offering, the monument of our 
littleness. For even this Angkor, the work of a 
race, the labour of centuries, is as a grain of chaff 
to be swept away at thy nod.” 

But that was not the spirit of these Aryan 
invaders, whose gods fought by their side, drove 
chariots, and were as intimately involved in the 
national campaigns as those of Troy. Humility 
in the East is a Buddhist growth, and it was not 
until the philosophy of Sakya Muni penetrated 
to the Tonle Sap that the building of Angkor was 
checked. Five hundred years after the birth of 
Christ, when the work was completed, it seems, 
save for the chiselling of a single pillar, the sacred 
Buddhist books were introduced into Cambodia 
from Ceylon and the temple was given over to the 
new cult. With the new influence the religious 



aspirations of the Kmers were idealized, they were 
filled with a sense of the pervading vanity of 
things, and the motive of this monumental labour 
vanished. For it is only among proudly material¬ 
ized races like the Egyptians, Aztecs, Assyrians, 
and ancient Hindus that these mountains of 
elaborate architecture have been raised. 

Angkor then owes little to the Buddhists save 
that their tolerance has left the great temple nearly 
intact. It is strange to think that these ministers 
of gentle faith, whose only prayer is peace and the 
realization of the sanctity of hfe, have passed to 
their devotions so many years along these cloisters, 
where every inch of wall pictures a riot of carnage 
—Rama and Hanuman drawing bows, slashin g 
swords, thrusting savagely with knives, in the 
wildest fury of hate, or kings going out to war 
with chariots and horses and legions of footmen, 
and drawing in their train everything frightful 
or noble among beasts—elephant, horse, ox, 
crocodile, and rhinoceros—three thousand feet of 
intricate figures inexorably devoted to the pride 
of conquest. For this place, so peaceful and 
remote, is haunted more than any other place on 
earth with the sense of dead strife, titanic labour- 
ings to no lasting purpose, it seems, save a casual 
holocaust of human lives. And to-day, while a 
few passive devotees dream away their lives in 
this milieu, the Hindus who conceived it all, con¬ 
cerning themselves in their brief existence only 
with the engines of terrorism and death, have 
passed away from the face of the earth, leaving 
no trace of their influence on the races who 
absorbed them. 

With these epic fragments in my head and con- 


fused moralisings I fell asleep, a huddled anachron¬ 
ism, on the zayat floor; and after a few hours’ 
dreaming rose with the sun to seize a last glimpse 
of the temple before setting out to explore the 
crumbling palaces scattered around in the jungle 
—Bapuan, Bayon, Pimean-Acas—all that re¬ 
mains of Angkor-Thom, the capital of this lost 
race. I climbed the outer staircase—inner there 
was none—on to the third terrace where the three 
great pagodas dominate the encroaching forest. 
Below me lay the second and third terraces, 
cloistered courts with innumerable monolithic 
pillars, open within to the light of day, every 
passage a vaulted gallery of bas-reliefs with 
image-houses scattered symmetrically to north 
and south. Then beyond, the great enclosure 
choked with palm-trees, intersected with raised 
causeways of flagstone, with shrines on either 
side, sacristies perhaps, or buildings dedicated to 
some special rite. All this ringed by an outer wall, 
a mile or more of masonry surmounting a broad 
moat, rank with lotus and frequented by coot and 
whistling teal. 

The main causeway leads through the western 
gate across a bridge that spans the moat. Through 
this I passed to Angkor-Th6m, where all this 
grandeur is repeated in fragments. The city is 
scattered over miles. One breaks through a 
thicket and comes upon a wall of bas-relief. A 
king with helmet, sword, and corselet is being 
drawn in a triumphal car; a tortoise is swimming 
in a lake; a divinity holds out a lotus flower. 
One looks up and meets the gaze of a huge 
Brahmanic face in haut-relief, intact though 
draped with creepers and parasites. 



Then one stumbles against a massive gateway 
through which elephants have passed to war; 
gross shapes of warriors peep above the lintel; 
on either side of the porch are stone chambers 
where stood the guard. The gate is topped by a 
pagoda-tower with progressively decreasing layers, 
richly ornamented, every ledge culminating in the 
sacred Naga, seven-headed, fan-shaped, hood 
erect, or the eagle of Vishnu, man-headed and 
intertwined with serpents. Here a troupe of 
demons afflict the damned. There the immense 
serpent forms a balustrade supported by squat 
bowmen. The elephant head of Ganesh sleeps 
under a green canopy. No one has bent the knee 
to that worthy old forgotten god for the last 
thousand years. 

Then as one strains through the thick tropical 
tangle one may come upon an unexpected village. 
A tinkling cow-bell, or the drone of some sleepy 
herdsman, may reveal it nearer than one thought. 
Here is the path, rank with the aromatic Lanta- 
num. A few steps and one finds a scene that 
compels moralising. For to-day when the Cam¬ 
bodian builds a house he drives four piles into the 
earth, or perhaps six or eight, not more, and 
stretches across them a bamboo floor. This, with 
four walls and a slanting roof, also of bamboo, 
completes his architectural ambition—a draughty 
cowshed on stilts. Villages built in this way stand 
among the ruins of the ancient Kmers. No 
wonder, then, the natives say Angkor was built 
by the gods. We ourselves are not so immeasur¬ 
ably wiser, though in Paris the Musee Kmer is 
devoted to the lost civilization, and the French¬ 
men, Abel Remusat, Mouhot, Doudard de Lagr4e, 


Gamier, Delaporte, Barth, Aumonier, and Foume- 
reau, have written volumes on the subject. 

I should explain that my own journey was the 
harum-scarum adventure of a boy who knew 
nothing about architecture or ethnology or Asiatic 
Gore, but was simply captured by the glamour of 
the thing. Notes and investigations! I took none, 
made none, never dreamed of making any! 
Intelligent inquiry, I confess, would have bored 
me. Mouhot I had read cursorily, and attributed 
his amazing flow of rhetoric to “ the Frenchman’s 
way.” But when I reached London I spent some 
days at the British Museum, and was amazed 
to find that Angkor had been measured with a 

At first I resented it. And unreasonably, you 
may well say. For being jealous of the shrine, 
I ought to have understood that my own in¬ 
articulate wonder and dreamy reverence were 
poor offerings beside this man’s foot-rule and note¬ 
book. Supposing we both wished to spread the 
cult of Angkor, were both missionaries in a sense, 
as most men wish to be who cherish any in¬ 
communicable vision. And supposing we were 
questioned about Angkor by an unbeliever. I 
could only gape and babble of a miracle, while the 
other would be quoting chapter and verse. I can 
imagine the catechism. 

“ And is the temple of this god you mention 
very great ? Is it as great as St. Paul’s ? ” 

I could only stammer, “ Vastly greater. From 
end to end is farther than the stoutest archer 
could send an arrow.” 

But the wise votary would say: 

“ The causeway which leads to the main en- 


trance of the temple is 72$ feet in length, and is 
paved with stones measuring four feet in length 
and two in breadth. The outer wall, about half 
a mile square, is built of sandstone, with gateways 
upon each side, which are handsomely carved 
with gods and dragons, arabesques and intricate 
scrolls. Upon the western side is the main gate¬ 
way, and passing through this, and up a causeway 
for a distance of a thousand feet, you arrive at the 
main entrance of the temple. The foundations of 
Angkor Wat are ten feet in height, and massively 
built of volcanic rock. The entire edifice, which 
is raised on three terraces, the one about thirty 
feet above the other, including the roof, is of stone, 
but without cement, and so closely fitting are the 
joints as even now to be scarcely discernible. 
The shape of the building is oblong, being 796 feet 
in length and 588 feet in width, while the highest 
central pagoda rises some 250 feet above the 
ground, and four others at the angles of the court 
are each about 150 feet in height.” 

Then the unbeliever, impressed, would ask : 

" And is the temple of this god beautiful ? Is it 
sculptured and ornamented like the cathedral of 
Amiens ? ” 

Here the impotence of words would be an agony 
to me. But the man of deeds, now my ally, 
would be ready with his hard gospel of facts. 

"The gallery of sculpture, which forms the 
exterior of the temple, consists of over half a 
million of continuous pictures, cut in basso- 
relievo upon sandstone slabs six feet in width, 
and representing subjects taken from the Hindu 
mythology. Entire scenes from the Ramayana 
are pictured, one of which occupies 240 feet of the 


wall. On the walls are sculptured the immense 
number of 100,000 separate figures.” 

So I came to treasure these statistics, learnt 
them by rote, and came in time almost to believe 
that I had measured Angkor myself. Equipped 
with this testament I might speak out boldly of 
the shrine and crush the incredulous with the 
weight of facts. I remembered the idle curiosity 
with which I had turned over Mouhot’s pages 
before the pilgrimage, how casually I had listened 
to his outpourings. “ A la vue de ce temple 
l’esprit se sent ecrase, l’imagination surpassee,” 
he had written, with all moderation as I learnt 
afterwards, and in the fullness of his heart. But 
to me the words had seemed vain, the speech 
of a blind seer, a Nabi; they conjured up nothing 
save an impatient glimpse of an excited French¬ 
man. The thought of this injustice made me timid 
in speaking of Angkor. To others who had not 
seen my words also might appear vain. I was not 
more ardent, deserved no better, than this Mouhot 
who had left me so cynically cold and sceptical. 
Clearly if I wished any one to believe me I must 
be more reticent. I would be guarded. Then I 
discovered the disciple with the foot-rule and had 
only to say “ Amen.” 

But that was ten years ago. To-day there 
ought to be no need of proselytising. Do you 
claim that there is any other shrine half so grand 
and impressive, listen to the burning words of the 
pilgrim Gamier and Mouhot. Do you deny 
that Angkor was the cradle of a race of kings, turn 
to the bas-reliefs, read the inscriptions in Kmer 
and Sanscrit translated by the Orientalists Barth 
and Aumonier. Are you sceptical about the 


splendour, extent, and astonishing beauty of the 
place, scan the measurements of Vincent, then 
turn to the sumptuous tomes of Foumereau and 
Porcher, spread out the hundred plates, and how 
the knee converted. 

Still, in spite of all this literature and investiga¬ 
tion, there is much mystery veiling the history of 
Angkor which Orientalists have been unable to 
penetrate. These Kmers were half Hindus, and 
derived, one might think, their architectural 
inspirations from Hindu sources. In many 
respects the designs of Prea-thong and his de¬ 
scendants are identical with those of Hindustan. 
Yet there are some essential characteristics, the 
arch and vaulted roof, for instance, which are not 
traceable to Aryan models. The Kmers owed 
nothing to China, nor could they have been 
inspired by the Khomen, the original inhabitants 
of the land. What then is the origin of these 
traits ? And how are we to account for the extra¬ 
ordinary analogies that Fournereau has traced 
between the Kmer and the Egyptian temples 
and the Kmer and Assyrian sculpture and bas- 
reliefs ? That is a secret which the stones of 
Angkor have not revealed. 

Angkor has played me the same trick as it did 
Mouhot. It has lured me into rhodomontades. 
I can only babble incoherently of its charm. I 
have not attempted to describe its architecture. 
And this is not because I cannot see the shrine 
and remember, as I think, every stone and curve 
of it, but because I would have no joy in the task, 
even if I could succeed. To me the appeal of the 
place is purely emotional; I have fallen under 
the spell and wish others to feel its intensity. 


I simply proclaim the pre-eminence of Angkor 
over all other shrines. I am the Nabi on whom 
has descended Mouhot’s mantle, the muezzin on 
the tower. Maybe there are folk listening in the 
street who will hear the call and distinguish in 
my voice the ring of truth. 

The Mantle of the East. 1910. 



A Night of Terror 

The glaring eyes through the brushwood shine, 

And the striped hide shows between 
The trees and bushes, 'mid trailing vine 
And masses of ever-green. 

A snarling moan comes long and low, 

We may neither flee nor fight. 

For well our leaping pulses know 
The Terror that stalks by Night. 

If you put your finger on the map of the Malay 
peninsula an inch or two from its exact centre, 
you will find a river in Pahang territory which 
has its rise in the watershed that divides that 
State from Kelantan and Trengganu. This river 
is called the Tembeling, and it is chiefly remark¬ 
able for the number of its rapids and the richness 
of its gutta-bearing forests. Its inhabitants are 
a ruffianly lot of Malays, who are preyed upon by 
a family of Wans, a semi-royal set of nobles who 
do their best to live up to their traditions. Below 
the rapids the natives are chiefly noted for the 
quaint pottery that they produce from the clay 
which abounds there, and the rude shapes and 
ruder tracery of their vessels have probably 
suffered no change since the days when Solomon's 


fleets sought gold and peafowl and monkeys in 
the jungles of the Peninsula, as everybody knows. 
Above the rapids the Malays plant enough gambir 
to supply the wants of the whole betel-chewing 
population of Pahang, and, as the sale of this 
commodity wins them a few dollars annually, 
they are too indolent to plant their own rice. 
This grain, which is the staple of all Malays, 
without which they cannot live, is therefore sold 
to them by down-river natives, at the exorbitant 
price of half a dollar the bushel. 

A short distance up-stream, and midway 
between the mouth and the big rapids, there is 
a straggling village, called Ranggul, the houses 
of which, made of wattled bamboos and thatched 
with palm leaves, stand on piles, amid the groves 
of cocoa-nut and areca-nut palms, varied by 
clumps of smooth-leaved banana trees. The 
houses are not very close together, but a man can 
call from one to the other with ease; and thus 
the cocoa-nuts thrive, which, as the Malays say, 
grow not with pleasure beyond the sound of the 
human voice. The people of the village are not 
more indolent than other Malays. They plant a 
little rice, when the season comes, in the swamps 
behind the village. They work a little jungle 
produce, when the pinch of poverty drives them 
to it, but, like all Malays, they take life sufficiently 
easily. If you chance to go into the village of 
Ranggul, during any of the hot hours of the day, 
you will find most of its occupants lying about 
in their dark, cool houses, engaged upon such 
gentle mental tasks as may be afforded by 
whittling a stick, or hacking slowly at the already 
deeply scored threshold-block, with their clumsy 


wood-knives. Sitting thus, they gossip with a 
passing neighbour, who stops to chatter as he 
sits propped upon the stair ladder, or they croak 
snatches of song, with some old-world refrain to 
it, and, from time to time, break off to cast a word 
over their shoulders to the wife in the dim back¬ 
ground near the fireplace, or to the little virgin 
daughter, carefully secreted on the shelf overhead, 
in company with a miscellaneous collection of 
dusty, grimy rubbish, the disused lumber of 
years. Nature has been very lavish to the 
Malay, and she has provided him with a soil 
which returns a maximum of food for a minimum 
of grudging labour. The cool, moist fruit groves 
call aloud to all mankind to come and revel in 
their fragrant shade during the parching hours of 
midday, and the Malay has caught the spirit 
of his surroundings, and is very much what Nature 
has seen fit to make him. 

a Some five-and-thirty years ago, when Che’ Wan 
Ahmad, now better known as Sultan Ahmad 
Maatham Shah, was collecting his forces in 
Dungun, preparatory to making his last and 
successful descent into the Tembeling valley, 
whence to overrun and conquer Pahang, the night 
was closing in at Ranggul. A large house stood, 
at that time, in a somewhat isolated position, 
within a thickly-planted compound, at one 
extremity of the village. In this house, on the 
night of which I write, seven men and two women 
were at work on the evening meal. The men sat 
in the centre of the floor, on a white mat made 
from the plaited leaves of the mengMang palm, 
with a plate piled with rice before each of them, 
and a brass tray, holding various little china bowls 


of curry, placed where all could reach it. They 
sat cross-legged, with bowed backs, supporting 
themselves on their left arms, the left hand lying 
flat on the mat, and being so turned that the 
outspread fingers pointed inwards. With the 
fingers of their right hands, they messed the rice, 
mixing the curry well into it, and then swiftly 
carried a large handful to their mouths, skilfully, 
without dropping a grain. The women sat 
demurely, in a half-kneeling position, with their 
feet tucked away under them, and ministered to 
the wants of the men. They said never a word, 
save an occasional exclamation, when they drove 
away a lean cat that crept too near to the food, 
and the men also held their peace. There was no 
sound to be heard, save the hum of the insects 
out of doors, the deep note of the bull-frogs in the 
rice swamps, and the unnecessarily loud noise of 
mastication made by the men as they ate. 

When the meal was over the women carried 
what was left to a comer near the fireplace, and 
there fell to on such of the viands as their lords 
had not consumed. If you had looked carefully, 
however, you would have seen that the cooking- 
pots, over which the women ruled, still held a 
secret store for their own consumption, and that 
the quality of the food in this cache was by no 
means inferior to that which has been allotted to 
the men. In a land where women wait upon 
themselves, and have none to attend their wants, 
or forestall their wishes, they very soon acquire 
an extremely good notion of how to look after 
themselves; and, since they have never known a 
state of society in which women are treated as they 
are amongst ourselves, they do not repine, and 


seem, for the most part, to be sufficiently bright, 
light-hearted, and happy. 

The men, meanwhile, had each rolled up a quid 
of betel-nut, taking the four ingredients carefully 
from the little brass boxes in the wooden tray 
before them, and having prepared cigarettes of 
Javanese tobacco, with the dried shoots of the 
ntpah palm for wrappers, had at length broken 
the absorbed silence, which had held them fast 
while the matter of the meal was occupying their 
undivided attention. 

The talk flitted lightly over many subjects ; for 
a hearty meal, and the peace of soul which reple¬ 
tion brings with it, are not conducive to concen¬ 
tration of attention, nor yet to activity of mind. 
The Malay, too, is always superficial, and talk 
among natives generally plays round facts, rather 
than round ideas. Che’ Seman, the owner of the 
house, and his two sons, Awang and Ngah, dis¬ 
cussed the prospects of the crop then growing in 
the fields behind the compound. Their cousin 
Abdollah, who chanced to be passing the night in 
the house, told of a fall which his wife’s aunt’s 
brother had come by, when climbing a cocoa-nut 
tree. Mat, his Was (for they had married two 
sisters, which established a definite form of rela¬ 
tionship between them, according to Malay ideas), 
added a few more or less ugly details to Abdollah’s 
description of the corpse after the accident. And 
as this attracted the attention of the two remain¬ 
ing men, P6tek and Kassim, who had been dis¬ 
cussing the price of rice, and the varying chances 
of getah hunting, the talk at this point became 
general. P6tek and Kassim had recently returned 
from Dungun, where, as had been said, the present 


Sult&n of Pahang was, at that time, collecting the 
force with which he afterwards successfully in¬ 
vaded and conquered the State. They told of all 
they had seen and heard, multiplying their figures 
with the daring recklessness that is bom of un¬ 
fettered imaginations, and the lack of a rudimen¬ 
tary knowledge of arithmetic. But even this 
absorbing topic could not hold the attention of 
the hearers for long. Before Potek and Kassim 
had well finished the enumeration of the heavy 
artillery, of the thousands of elephants, and the 
tens of thousands of the followers, with which they 
credited the adventurous, but slender bands of 
ragamuffins, who followed Ahmad’s fortunes, 
Che’ Seman broke into their talk with words on 
a subject which, at that time, was ever uppermost 
in the minds of the Tembeling people, and the 
conversation straightway drifted into the channel 
in which it had run, with only casual interruptions, 
for many weeks past. 

“ He of the Hairy Face 1 is with us once more,” 
ejaculated Che’ Seman ; and when this announce¬ 
ment had caused a dead silence to fall upon his 
hearers, and had even stilled the chatter of the 
women-folk near the fireplace, he continued : 

“ At the hour when the cicada is heard (sunset), 
I met Imam Sidik of Gemuroh, and bade him stay 
to eat rice, but he would not, saying that He of the 
Hairy Face had made his kill at Labu yester¬ 
night, and it behoved all men to be within their 
houses before the darkness fell. And so saying he 

1 Si Pudong —one of the names used by jungle-bred Malays to 
describe a tiger. They avoid using the beast’s real name lest the 
sound of it should reach his ears, and cause him to come to the 

( 4 , 297 ) 




paddled his dug-out down-stream with a short 
quick stroke used when we race boats. Imam 
Sidik is a wise man, and his words are true. He 
of the Hairy Face spares neither priest nor prince. 
The girl he killed at Lau was a daughter of the 
Wans —her name Wan Esah.” 

“ That makes three-and-twenty whom He of 
the Hairy Face hath slain in one year of maize ” 
(three months), said Awang in a low fear-stricken 
voice. “ He touches neither goats nor kine, and 
men say He sucketh more blood than He eateth 

“ That it is which proves Him to be the thing 
He is,” said Ngah. 

“ Thy words are true,” said Che' Seman 
solemnly. “ He of the Hairy Face has his origin 
in a man. The Slmang —the negrits of the woods 
—drove him forth from among them, and now he 
lives solitarily in the jungles, and by night he takes 
upon himself the form of Him of the Hairy Face, 
and feasts upon the flesh of his own kind.” 

“ I have heard tell that it is only the men of 
Korinchi who have this strange power,” interposed 
Abdollah, in the tone of one who longs to be 

“ Men say that they also possess the power,” 
rejoined Che’ Seman, “ but certain it is that He 
of the Hairy Face was born a Slmang —a negrit 
of the wood—and when He goeth forth in human 
guise He is like all other Slmangs to look upon. 
I and many others have seen him, roaming alone, 
naked, and muttering to himself, when we have 
been in the forests seeking for jungle produce. 
All men know that it is He who by night harries 
us in our villages. If one ventures to go forth 


from our houses in the time of darkness, to the 
bathing raft at the river’s edge, or to tend our 
sick, or to visit a friend, Si Pudong is ever to be 
found watching, and thus the tale of his kills 
waxes longer and longer.” 

" But men are safe from him while they sit 
within their houses ? ” asked Mat with evident 

“ God alone knows,” answered Che’ Seman 
piously. “ Who can say where men are safe from 
Him of the Hairy Face ? He cometh like a 
shadow, and slays like a prince, and then like a 
shadow He is gone. And the tale of his kills waxes 
even longer and yet more long. May God send 
Him far from us. Ya Allah ! It is He ! Listen! ” 

At the word, a dead silence, broken only by the 
hard breathing of the men and women, fell upon 
all within the house. Then very faintly, and far 
away up-stream, but not so faintly but that all 
could hear it, and shudder at the sound, the long- 
drawn, howling, snarling moan of a hungry tiger 
broke upon the stillness. The Malays call the roar 
of the tiger atm, and the word is vividly onomto- 
poeic, as those who have heard the sound in the 
jungle during the silent night watches can bear 
witness. All who have listened to the tiger in 
his forest freedom know that he has many voices 
wherewith to speak. He can give a barking cry, 
which is not unlike that of a deer; he can grunt 
like a startled boar, and speak like the monkeys 
cowering at his approach in the branches over¬ 
head ; he can shake the earth with a vibrating, 
resonant purr, like the sound of faint thunder in 
the foothills ; he can mew and snarl like an angry 
wild-cat; he can roar like a lusty lion cub. But 


it is when he lifts up his voice in the long-drawn 
moan that the jungle chiefly fears him. This cry 
means that he is hungry, and, moreover, that he 
is so sure of his kill that he cares not if all the 
world knows that his belly is empty. It has some¬ 
thing strangely horrible in its tone, for it speaks 
of that cold-blooded, dispassionate cruelty which 
is only to be found in perfection in the feline race. 
These sleek, smooth-skinned, soft-footed, lithe, 
almost serpentine animals, torture with a grace 
of movement, and a gentleness in strength which 
has something in it more violently repugnant to 
our natures than any sensation with which the 
thought of the blundering charge and savage 
goring of the buffalo, or the clumsy kneading with 
giant knee-caps, that the elephant metes out to its 
victims, can ever inspire in us. 

Again the long-drawn moaning cry broke upon 
the stillness. The cattle in the byre heard it and 
were panic-stricken. Half mad with fear, they 
charged the walls of their pen, bearing all before 
them, and in a moment could be heard in the 
distance plunging madly through the brushwood, 
and splashing through the soft earth of the fadi 
fields. The dogs whimpered and scampered off 
in every direction, while the fowls beneath the 
house set up a drowsy and discordant screeching. 
The folk within the house were too terror-stricken 
to speak, for fear, which gives voices to the animal 
world, renders voluble human beings dumb. And 
all this time the cry broke forth again and again, 
ever louder and louder, as He of the Hairy Face 
drew nearer and yet more near. 

At last the cruel whining howl sounded within 
the very compound in which the house stood, and 


its sudden proximity caused Mat to start so 
violently that he overturned the pitch torch at 
his elbow, and extinguished the flickering light. 
The women crowded up against the men, seeking 
comfort by physical contact with them, their 
teeth chattering like castanets. The men gripped 
their spears, and squatted tremblingly in the half 
light thrown by the dying embers of the fire, and 
the flecks cast upon floor and wall by the faint 
moonbeams struggling through the interstices of 
the thatched roof. 

“ Fear nothing, Minah,” Che’ Seman whispered, 
in a hoarse, strange voice, to his little daughter, 
who nestled miserably against his breast, “ in a 
space He will be gone. Even He of the Hairy 
Face will do us no harm while we sit within the 

Che’ Seman spoke from the experience of many 
generations of Malays, but he knew not the 
nature of the strange beast with whom he had to 
deal. Once more the moan-like howl broke out 
on the still night air, but this time the note had 
changed, and gradually it quickened to the 
ferocious snarling roar, the charge song, as the 
tiger rushed forward and leaped against the side 
of the house with a heavy jarring thud. A shriek 
from all the seven throats went up on the instant, 
and then came a scratching, tearing sound, 
followed by a soft, dull flop, as the tiger, failing 
to effect a landing on the low roof, fell back to 
earth. The men started to their feet, clutching 
their weapons convulsively, and, led by Che’ 
Seman, they raised, above the shrieks of the 
frightened women, a lamentable attempt at a 
sdrak, the Malayan war-cry, which is designed 


as much to put heart into those who utter it, as 
to frighten the enemy in defiance of whom it is 

Mat, the man who had upset the torch and 
plunged the house in darkness, alone failed to add 
his voice to the miserable cheer raised by his 
fellows. Wild with fear of the beast without, he 
crept, unobserved by the others, up into the j>dra, 
or shelf-like upper apartment, on which Minah 
had been wont to sit, when strangers were about, 
during the short days of her virginity. This place, 
as is usual in most Malay houses, hardly deserved 
to be dignified by being termed a room. It con¬ 
sisted of a platform suspended from the roof in 
one comer of the house, and among the dusty 
lumber with which it was covered Mat now 
cowered and sought to hide himself. 

A minute or two of sickening suspense followed 
the tiger’s first unsuccessful charge. But presently 
the howl broke forth again, quickened rapidly to 
the note of the charge song, and once more the 
house trembled under the weight of the great 
animal. This time the leap of Him of the Hairy 
Face had been of truer aim, and a crash overhead, 
a shower of leaflets of thatch, and an ominous 
creaking of the woodwork told the cowering 
people in the house that their enemy had effected 
a landing on the roof. 

The miserable thready cheer, which Che’ 
Seman exhorted his fellows to raise in answer 
to the charge song of the tiger, died down in their 
throats. All looked upwards in deadly fascina¬ 
tion as the thatch was tom violently apart by 
the great claws of their assailant. There were no 
firearms in the house, but the men instinctively 


grasped their spears, and held them ready to await 
the tiger’s descent. Thus for a moment, as the 
quiet moonlight poured in through the gap in the 
thatch, they stood gazing at the great square face, 
marked with its black bars, at the flaming eyes, 
and the long, cruel teeth framed in the hole which 
the claws of the beast had made. The timbers 
of the roof bent and cracked anew under the un¬ 
wonted weight, and then, with the agility of a 
cat. He of the Hairy Face leaped lightly down, 
and was among them before they knew. The 
striped hide was slightly wounded by the spears, 
but the shock of the brute’s leap bore all who had 
resisted it to the floor. The tiger never stayed to 
use its jaws. It sat up, much in the attitude of 
a kitten which plays with something dangled 
before its eyes, and the soft pit-pat of its paws, 
as it struck out rapidly and with unerring aim. 
speedily 1 disposed of all its enemies. Che’ Seman, 
with his two sons, Awang and Ngah, were the first 
to fall. Then Iang, Che’ Seman’s wife, reeled 
backwards against the wall, with her skull 
crushed out of all resemblance to any human 
member, by the awful strength of one of those 
well-aimed buffets from the fearful claws. Kassim, 
Potek, and Abdollah fell before the tiger in quick 
succession, and Minah, the girl who had nestled 
against her father for protection, lay now under 
his dead body, sorely wounded, wild with terror, 
but still alive and conscious. Mat, cowering on 
the shelf overhead, breathless with fear, and 
gazing fascinated at the carnage going on within 
a few feet of him, was the only inmate of the house 
who remained uninjured. 

He of the Hairy Face killed quickly and silently, 



while there were yet some alive to resist him. 
Then, purring gently, he drank a deep draught 
of blood from each of his slaughtered victims. At 
last he reached Che’ Seman, and Minah, seeing 
him approach, made a feeble effort to evade him. 
Then began a fearful scene, the tiger playing with 
and torturing the girl. ... So cunningly did he 
play with her, that, as Mat described it, a time 
as long as it would take to cook rice had 
elapsed, before the girl was finally put out of her 

Even then He of the Hairy Face did not quit 
the scene of slaughter. Mat, as he lay trembling 
in the shelf overhead, watched the tiger, through 
the long hours of that fearful night, play with the 
mangled bodies of each of his victims in turn. He 
leaped from one to the other, inflicting a fresh 
blow with teeth or claws on their tom flesh, with 
all the airy, light-hearted agility and sinuous grace 
of a kitten playing with its shadow in the sun. 
Then when the dawn was breaking, the tiger tore 
down the door, leaped lightly to the ground, and 
betook himself to the jungle. 

When the sun was up, an armed party of neigh¬ 
bours came to the house to see if ought could be 
done. But they found the place a shambles, the 
bodies hardly to be recognized, the floor-laths 
dripping blood, and Mat lying face downward 
on the shelf, with his reason tottering in the 
balance. The bodies, though they had been 
horribly mutilated, had not been eaten, the tiger 
having contented himself with drinking the blood 
of his victims, and playing his ghastly game with 
them till the dawn broke. 

This is, I believe, the only recorded instance in 


the Peninsula of a tiger having dared to attack 
men within their closed houses ; and the circum¬ 
stances are so remarkable in every way, that I, 
for one, cannot find it in me to greatly blame the 
Malays for attributing the fearlessness of mankind, 
and the lust for blood displayed by Him of the 
Hairy Face, to the fact that he owed his existence 
to magic agencies, and was in reality no mere 
wild beast, but a member of the race upon which 
he so cruelly preyed. 

In Court and Kampong. 1897. 



A Chinese Ridge-Pole 

All of which brings me back to the fact that the 
26th day of the 6th Moon in the J6n Hsu, Great 
Attack, Year has been chosen as the correct 
moment to Raise the Ridge-pole of my Grass Hut. 
This is the most important ceremony in connec¬ 
tion with construction and must be correctly 

Chinese houses are built upon the same principle 
as our reinforced concrete buildings, that is, the 
framework which supports the roof is first placed 
in position and the walls are filled in afterwards. 
The framework, which in China is of wood, must 
first be carefully prepared and mortised together, 
so the Ridge-pole cannot be raised until some little 
time after the foundations are pounded in. As 
a rule, no nails are used in the construction of a 
Chinese house, and those required to nail down 
the non-Chinese floor boards we intend to have, 
are an extra item in the contract. In China, the 
rich use a paving of tiles or fine stone, and the 
poor are content with Mother Earth for their 
flooring. The woodwork takes some time to make 
ready, as in Kiangsu the transverse beams of the 


Guest-Hall are usually carved with historical 
scenes, and figures of legendary and actual 
characters. It is the custom to devote the 
principal beam, facing south, to a scene from the 
life of some hero whom one especially admires; 
Chu-ko Liang, the wise and self-effacing minister 
of Liu Pei, is very popular, and so is Kuo Tzu-i, 
the Saviour of the Tang dynasty, but I have 
chosen Yo Fei, who is, to me, one of the most 
sympathetic characters in Chinese history. He 
lived at the close of the Sung dynasty, and was 
terribly distressed at the supine conduct of the 
Emperor, who would not support him in his 
effort to drive back the Golden Tartars who were 
then invading China. As a matter of fact, the 
Emperor was completely under the influence of 
the Prime Minister, Ch’in Kuei, who in his turn 
was in the pay of the Golden Tartars. One of 
their officers wrote Ch’in Kuei privately, saying: 
“ You are always talking of ‘ peace, peace, peace/ 
and at the same time here in the North .Yo Fei 
does nothing but fight, fight, fight, Kill him, and 
then there will be peace.” So Ch’in Kuei spun 
a web of treachery about Yo Fei, and contrived 
that he should be thrown into prison on various 
trumped-up charges. His case was at once 
investigated, and when being questioned by the 
Imperial Envoy, Yo Fei took off his coat and 
showed four large characters which his mother 
had tattooed on his back when he was a boy: 
ch’in chung pao kuo —(To the last loyal in defence 
of the country). Nothing could be proved against 
him nor against his son, Yo Yiin, who also was a 
prisoner, so one day Ch'in Kuei called a messenger 
and sent a very small “ writing ” in to the prison 


addressed to the Head Gaoler; whereupon the 
Gaoler, in a Memorial to the Throne, reported 
that Yo Fei was dead. This was on the twenty- 
ninth day of the twelfth Moon a.d. 1141. Snow 
was falling and it was very cold. The beam in my 
Great-Hall shows the scene when Yo Fei bares his 
back. It is carved on the south side of the 
southern beam, and I fear that its position will be 
so high and honourable that no one will see it. 
On the back of the southern beam is a large group 
showing Yo Fei’s son, at the battle of the Ox 
Head Hill, and on the front of the north beam 
Chao Yiin, a hero at the time of the Three King¬ 
doms, is seen escaping from the battle-field of the 
Long Sloping Bank with Liu Pei’s infant son 
safely tucked in the fold of his coat. The short 
beams at the sides show a whole galaxy of my 
friends, such as Li T’ai-po the poet; Wang 
Hsi-chih the wonderful calligraphist; the Ho Ho 
twins who died of laughter at their joy over 
inventing the abacus ; the Eight Immortals who 
live among the peach trees of the Western 
paradise, and so on. The carving is in fairly 
high relief and the background is darkened, so 
the figures, which are uncoloured, stand out very 
clearly. Workmen came from the city to carve 
the beams and worked with great speed, surety, 
and freedom. A slight outline in black ink was 
all they had to guide them. At one time it seemed 
rather doubtful whether the carving would be 
ready for the appointed day, so enormous arc 
lights were hung in the working shed, and the 
wood carvers worked throughout several nights. 
Everything was in readiness for the ceremony this 



It has been a brilliant day of intense heat, a 
day when the Yang principle seemed at its 
height. The sky was that marvellous delphinium 
blue which one often sees in Central China, and a 
strong fresh breeze blew enormous billowy clouds 
up from out of the Yellow Sea. By ten o’clock the 
whole country-side had assembled, and kept up 
a continuous beating of gongs, clashing of cymbals, 
and popping of fire-crackers. Light and fire are 
supposed to be actual parts of the great Yang 
principle, and are therefore destructive to spirits 
which are accustomed to the World of Shade. 
This being the case, fire, candles, and lanterns are 
used by the whole Chinese nation as a protection 
from evil. To increase the awe-inspiring effect 
of bonfires, it is said that in the Dark Ages, pieces 
of bamboo which produced a crackling, popping 
noise were thrown into the flames. Later, tubes 
of paper filled with gunpowder took the place 
of bamboos, and these have developed into the 
fire-crackers of infinite variety in use to-day. I 
suppose that the terrifying effect of noise is at the 
root of the conviction that drums, cymbals, and 
gongs are a protection against demons. At all 
events, noise-making in China is a work of merit. 
The din this morning was well organized, and, let 
us hope, effective. 

In front of the space which will be the Guest- 
Hall a chair was placed facing South; it held a 
long strip of paper stamped with a brightly 
coloured portrait of Lu Pan, Patron Saint of 
Carpenters. In real life he was a youth named 
Pan, of the K’ung Clan, living in the state of Lu, 
circa 400 B.c. During his apprenticeship he 
devoted himself to the arts of sculpture, drawing, 


and the chiselling of metal; he made plans of pal¬ 
aces, built boats, carts, and various contrivances, 
It is also said that he married a lady named Cloud 
who was skilful in the making of artistic vases. 
Pere Dore, in his Superstitions de la Chine, tells 
many of the legends which have gathered around 
Lu Pan’s name. At the age of forty he became 
a hermit on Mt. Li, and was there initiated into 
secrets of sorcery, which enabled him to float 
about the world on a cloud, and to move with ease 
to the Heavenly regions; he is, moreover, sup¬ 
posed to have made wooden magpies that could 
fly; he and Chang Pan, Patron Saint of Masons, 
are supposed to have built a palace in the peach 
gardens of the Jade Emperor, and carpenters say 
that when the pillars of Heaven were menaced 
with ruin, Lu Pan was entrusted with the task 
of repairing them. During the Ming dynasty, 
circa a.d. 14x5, he received the posthumous title 
Great Master and Support of the Empire, and it 
is said that his spirit will certainly give ear to 
prayers offered by artisans. 

The feast spread before Lu Pan’s effigy this 
morning was of a most complicated nature. Every 
item on the menu had a very distinct raison d'Stre. 
Number-two Boy, by virtue of his past career as 
a teacher, always acts as Master of Ceremonies 
on occasions of pomp, and from the first streak 
of dawn he was hurrying about attending to 
various details. 

He has given me the following inventory. 
It reads: 

Lu Pan the First Instructor. Raising the 
Ridge-pole on a fortunate day. Items pre¬ 



A Complete Happiness: 

This is a strip of scarlet paper upon which the 
words, “ may great joy come on raising the beam,’’ 
are written. It is pasted to the Ridge-pole before 
the rites begin. 

A Pair of Geese : 

Emblems of Conjugal felicity. 

A Pair of Fish : 

Because the word yii, fish, is a homonym of Yu, 
a surplus of excess, the fish has become a symbol 
of riches. 

Guarantee Prosperity Dumplings: 

Steamed cakes made of rice flour. These played 
an important part during the ceremony. 

A Pig’s Head: 

A play on word sounds, turns the porker’s head 
into a symbol of profitable trade. 

Bean Curd: 

The word fu, curd, is a homonym of fit, happi¬ 
ness, and is therefore used to suggest joy. 

Tribute Candles: 

Candles are, as a rule, red, but in this case green 
were preferred. Red suggests fire and might 
therefore be dangerous. 

Ingots of Silver: 

Spirit money to be burned for Lu Pan’s use on 
the return journey to the World of Shade. 

Sandal Wood Fragrance: 

Incense-sticks for use on the said return jour¬ 



Long Life Fragrance : 

Pieces of sandal wood filled an incense burner 
placed in the centre of the table. These were 
lighted before the ceremony began, so when the 
crowd assembled the air was filled with sweet scent 
from clouds of smoke curling in the sunlight. 

Ascend to the Heights : 

Huge fire-crackers, capable of emitting such 
sound as must infallibly terrify any demon. 

Braids from Han : 

Strings of tiny fire-crackers which were origin¬ 
ally a specialty of Hankow. 

Onions, Soy, Bean-curd, and Salt: 

These are considered the ingredients of a well- 
balanced diet, and are therefore used to express 
the wish : £f Wind harmonious rain in accordance 
with.” That is, “ wind and rain in proper 
quantities and at proper times,” a normal desire 
for people who consider agriculture the chief 
business of life. 

The Lucky Grass, an Omen of Prosperity : 

A great bunch of sweet flag-leaves. 

Red of the Senior Classic : 

The name of a delicious wine. Every three years 
examinations of graduate scholars of the Third 
Degree were held in the Palace, and the man who 
won first place was called chuang yuan, Senior 

Before the Rain : 

. Name of a very delicate tea, made from leaves 
picked early in the season. 



Ten Thousand Years Green : 

A bunch of leaves of the evergreen Rohdea 
Japonica, an emblem of longevity also used in a 
congratulatory sense because of a play on words : 
ch’ing —green—has the same sound as ch’ing, to 


An ornament in the shape of a gilt lotus flower 
destined to be placed in the centre of the Ridge¬ 

A Chinese Mirror. 1925. 


The Japanese Stage 

The building may weather the strain, but not 
its ornaments. All the charm, the “ picturesque¬ 
ness,” of Japanese life, advertised so speciously 
by Western travellers, has been shivered in the 
earthquake shock of modernism like some object 
only unbroken because untouched. It has 
vanished with the isolation which preserved it. 
That Japanese culture was at least moribund 
before the Meiji—if not a mere corpse within its 
tomb, still fresh-looking while no air could 
breathe on its features—is suggested by the 
rapidity with which it has crumbled. As early 
as 1798, a Japanese writer, when pleading for 
expansion, declared boldly that cultural growth 
was at a standstill. The canons which regulated 
aesthetic feeling were so sterile as the empty 
protocol of politeness. 

Everything becomes conventional in Japan; 
courtesy, the sense of cleanliness, the feeling for 
art. Thus, it is a convention to keep the interior 
of a house clean, to arrange flowers in the cere¬ 
monial alcove, and to hang certain pictures in a 
certain way. The outside of a house is another 
matter; it may be dishevelled and unprepossessing 


as you please. Nor are buildings constructed in 
the Western style, government offices, universities 
and schools, considered to be deserving of much 
nicety; and Japanese, even the most fastidious, 
are strangely unaffected by squalid surroundings. 

So it is in questions of aesthetic taste. But the 
process of crystallization to which I have referred, 
though deadening, acts also as a preservative. 
Nothing could be more slipshod than a Japanese 
town, with its look of an American frontier settle¬ 
ment, the thick telegraph posts leaning all awry, 
the low shop fronts masked in corrugated iron. 
An haphazard supremely philistinian prospect! 
And yet, here and there, as one comes closer, are 
little enchanting fragments of good taste, myste¬ 
riously left intact by the general havoc: cheap 
crockery, the printed cotton strips which are sold 
to be made up as women’s sashes, widths of 
patterned silk for lining sleeves, lacquer bowls and 
lacquer trays, domestic furniture—the last in 
smooth-grained white paulownia wood—and all 
the elegant apparatus of the writing desk. 

In such details the Japanese is still an aesthete ; 
but taste, as they are prepared to admit them¬ 
selves, is less uncommon lower down in the social 
scale than in the world of enlightened students 
and busy professors. The pen is superseding the 
traditional brush—the fountain-pen with a hard 
characterless nib that robs the Japanese ideogram 
of its proper fluency; whereas the shopman or 
the innkeeper does his accounts, holding a brush 
gracefully upright between finger and thumb, 
delicately moistening its point on the hollowed 
ink-stone, in the attitude of a contemplative 
Chinese sage. 



Most Japanese wear the national dress at home 
but the shopkeeper still wears it in the street, jus 
as his wife retains the traditional native coiffure 
Lovely, if absurd, that coiffure is! helmet flat¬ 
tened artfully across the neck in two broad wing¬ 
shaped flanges of pomaded hair, a frontal piece 
drawn back circularly from the forehead, the 
whole edifice crowned by a huge chignon. It 
dwarfs and oddly conventionalizes the face; 
and the face itself, heavily coated with liquid 
white, downcast, unsmiling, inexpressive, ex¬ 
quisitely completes the picture of subservient 
womanhood. . . . 

As harmonious is the paraphernalia of masculine 
fashion. Divided skirts, or baggy trousers, over 
the kimono are assumed by middle-class citizens 
when walking out, though often dispensed with 
by the rank and file. Short coats, which bear a 
miniature family crest embroidered in a tiny circle 
upon the sleeve, made of silk or, during the warm 
months, of gauzy tissue, serve as a practical and 
easily fitting outer garment; while the kimono, 
wlich is generally brown or grey, admits of a wide 
range of charming patterns. The ensemble is 
elegant but subdued; Japanese elegance—and 
this is perhaps its greatest merit—is usually based 
on an almost religious care for detail and likes to 
express itself by a complete absence of outward 
show. The lining should be richer than the robe; 
spontaneity must be studied as' a fine art; and 
the product of inbreeding and over-refinement is 
an air of consummate rightness in everyday 
objects. Japanese art was the art of life ; if so 
many of its creations when brought to Europe 
seem unimpressive, trivial and somehow meaning- 


less, it is no doubt because the secret of Japanese 
culture was its domestic and utilitarian quality. 
The Japanese have been dubbed “ a people of 
artists,” whereas “ a race of dilettantes ” would 
be nearer the truth, since it is not the artist whose 
way of life is most “ artistic,” and the genius of 
Japanese in their later period, during the seclu¬ 
sion of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 
is best exemplified by the discreet but glowing 
polish they were able to confer upon the surface 
of the everyday world. . . . 

In arts strictly creative they were poor enough, 
for creative art is visionary and experimental, 
and vision and experiment are not matters of 
taste. Nor can it be said that Western art, 
though earnestly imitated by the young, has yet 
helped Japanese artists to a new impulse. Mock- 
Cezannes, mock-Renoirs, and spurious Matisses 
are turned out with great facility by modem 
painters, whose enthusiasm is in advance of their 
real talent. Where art persists, it is as vestige 
of the old order ; but these vestiges, through their 
hold on popular taste, are even now indisputably 
alive. They have come drifting down over the 
muddy waters of change, a floating detached 
fragment of mediaeval Japan. 

In the theatre one steps back a hundred years. 
The Kabuki-za, the home of traditional melo¬ 
drama, is a large and solid building in a bustling 
neighbourhood, much bigger and more comfort¬ 
able than a Western theatre—it has the dimen¬ 
sions of a European opera-house—replete with 
restaurants, little shops, rooms and passages in 
which the audience take the air between the acts. 
The auditorium is well equipped and very spacious, 


possessing modem tip-up seats and an ugly 
curtain. Entire families of the more old-fashioned 
Japanese crowd the floor and fill the galleries as 
far as the roof. 

They are silent, deeply attentive to the play.. 
Three sonorous blows of wood on wood preface 
the rise of the garish curtain, which discovers a 
long, brilliantly lighted stage—twice as long, at 
a rough guess, as any Western scene—and con¬ 
nected with the rear of the theatre by a raised 
gang-plank running out upon the left. This is an 
alternative means of exit; it may also be used 
as a subsidiary platform, and sometimes, besides 
the actors who command the stage, there are 
others who stand perched above the audience, 
separated from them only by a few feet, entering 
or leaving through their midst and holding 
separate colloquies as they go. . . . 

A first impression is vaguely of immense sump¬ 
tuousness. All the costumes worn by Kabuki 
actors are traditional in colour and design, rich 
heavy silks and massive brocades set off by such 
dignity and sense of style that they resemble 
the lustrous carapaces of splendid insects. Noth¬ 
ing slipshod or tawdrily inconsequent spoils the 
illusion; actors move deliberately behind the 
footlights and, when they pause to open a fan 
or arrange a robe, perform the gesture with so 
conscious a natural skill that virtuosity itself is 
put to shame. They are natural in a supernatural 
key, and the effect is less of naturalism or of 
symbolism than of another life quite distinct from 
the life one knows—another world, another sphere 
of human existence. Their voices, too, though 
typically Japanese with the ding-dong monotonous 


rhythm of Japanese speech, have a curious ranting 
inflection all their own. They roll their eyes 
dramatically and twist their mouths ; they stamp 
their feet and assume postures of stiff astonish¬ 
ment. . . . 

As for the story—that is mysterious and far¬ 
away, plot and sub-plot and counter-plot woven 
together in the most undramatic fashion and 
tangled up in the most improbable of intrigues. 
A great deal appears to be happening and not 
enough ; there is little attempt at climax and 
crescendo, and the little there is trails off into 
insignificance. Everybody’s passions remain at 
boiling-point; but the drama boils and bubbles 
to slight effect. 

Speaking loosely, there are two classes of 
popular melodrama—plays of comparatively 
recent origin, which have to do with the later 
feudal period, its courtesans, dissolute merchants 
and fierce samurai, and plays which depict the 
events of an earlier epoch, and are inspired by the 
romantic atmosphere of the ancient No-dance. 
The former are to some extent naturalistic ; and 
it was one of these that, on a memorable afternoon 
which extended itself hazily into the evening—we 
were in the theatre from about five till past eleven 
—gave me my first experience of the national 
drama. I left the building with a headache and 
acute cramp, but with an increased respect for 
the possibilities of the Japanese genius. 

A Superficial Journey through Tokyo 
and Peking. 1932. 




The Southern Ocean 

We had our wind. On the sixteenth day out 
it freshened from the west’ard, and we began to 
make much better progress. Some time in the 
evening of that day we passed Campbell Island. 
We were not sure exactly when it was, for we 
were not sure exactly where we were. As soon 
as we got past that southernmost island of the 
New Zealand group, the wind piped fresher still, 
and throughout the next day we flew on, every 
sail drawing its utmost of a quartering wind and 
the ship lying heavily over. In the first night- 
watch of the seventeenth day the ship sailed 
48 miles; before that day was out she had 
covered 290 miles, and nightfall found the captain 
walking the poop with a smile. We held to every 
stitch, even the kites that were usually not bent 
until Trade winds were found, and the ship fairly 
quivered as she stumbled a little in her stride at 
times, and a big sea hit her with a great clump 
and a heavy shower of spray. The wind roared 
through the rigging; sails strained at sheet and 
brace and yard, threatening to carry them away; 
the wheel was abominably heavy and all but 


unmanageable with two men. For’ard the fore¬ 
deck was continuously awash, and feet of water 
lay to lee. Some of it found its way into the 
fo’c’sle; one heavy sea which came right over the 
whole length of her found an open skylight into 
the galley and descended upon the cook. The 
same sea washed the man from the lee wheel. 
What did it matter ? The wind was fair, and we 
had a lot of leeway to make up. " Drive her, 
sailor,” we said; “ drive her till the lee side 
smokes hot flush with the water, till the yardarm 
of the foreyard to lee rakes the sea with its roll, 
till she ships them green along the length of her, 
till we have four men to the wheel, if you like, if 
only she flies on! Drive her, sailor,” we said; 
“ she can stand it! ” 

But could she stand it ? Up to a point, maybe ; 
but only so far and no farther. In the evening 
the captain told the mate to snug her down for 
the night, and we took the t’gallant-stays’ls 
off her. But not very much later the roar of 
blown-out canvas aloft told us she should soon 
have to take in a little more than that. We did. 

The night came down quickly, black and 
threatening. The sky was heavily overcast, and 
there was a new and louder note in the moaning 
of the ■wind around the rigging screws ; the sea 
was rising steadily and the barometer going down 
alar mingly ; the wind increased each hour, until 
it blew so hard, and the ship lay over so much, 
that it was almost impossible to stand on deck. 
The pitching of the ship in the big sea, and her 
quivering now and then, did not add to the ease 
of keeping upright on her decks, nor did the water 
that continuously fell upon them from either side. 


Not very long after we had made the t’gallant- 
stays’ls fast, the leach of the mizzen-royal blew 
out with a wild boom of canvas and quivering 
of the yard. Then the three royals had to come 
in, and the gaff-tops’l and the flying-jib; and 
when they all were fast, the three upper t’gallants 
had to be clewed up, for the wind was still in¬ 
creasing and the night was uglier than ever. It 
was a matter of great difficulty to mount to the 
royal-yards, high above the reeling decks; to 
look into the wind up there was to have one’s 
breath taken away. Fierce as the wind rushed 
across the decks, it was peaceful there to the fury 
aloft. How the wind roars through the sailing 
ship’s rigging! How magnificent is its sound! 
Though it brings to us only work—hard, dangerous, 
tremendous, herculean work of a kind people 
ashore can never know—we yet can feel the glory 
of the roar of the wind in the sailer’s steel rigging. 
A score-odd notes are here, if you listen closely, 
if you listen carefully into the sullen great roaring 
that drowns everything at first. There is the 
plaintive moaning at the rigging screws, each with 
a different note; the sighing through the slack¬ 
ened running gear, and the mad roar at the wet 
and powerful backstays. Out on the yards there 
is a different note again, the noise of powerful 
wind meeting powerful canvas, and sending the 
good ship on; and down there on deck, far, far 
below, where puny figures haul on ropes and a big 
figure that is the mate stares aloft, is the crashing 
and the booming of the seas that break aboard. 
The great seas—the sea is gale-high now—come 
thundering at the ship like breakers at a rock-clad 
ocean beach, and break all around her and all 


over her as if they are bent upon breaking her, 
too ; and here aloft the wind sweeps unchecked 
upon us, and tears the coats from our backs, and 
snatches the caps from our heads, and blinds us 
with rain, and cuts us with hail, and tears at the 
grip of our numbed hands upon the weather 
rigging, and brings the moisture to our eyes, and 
the spirit to our souls, and we fight on. It is all 
very grand—very grand indeed. But it is also 
very hard, and we did not entirely relish the 
prospects that were before us, as we fought our 
way aloft and went out upon those steel t’gallant 
yards, and felt our oilskins flapping about our 
ears, and the whole of our carcases thoroughly 
wet, and began our fight with the canvas. For 
we knew that we had driven her perhaps a little 
too long, and we did not know when we might 
next enjoy a watch below. 

When we came on deck from making the upper 
t’gallants’l fast, it was to find that the other watch 
was out, and the lot of us began to haul up the 
cro’jack. The ship was staggering drunkenly 
then, and the night had gone mad. Sprays drove 
at her out of the murk to wind’ard higher than the 
upper tops’l-yard, and the salt water fell so often 
upon us that we no longer knew, as we worked 
desperately on, whether it was the rain or the sea 
which was wetting us. We only knew that we 
were as wet as we could possibly be, and we 
worked on. The wind fairly shrieked across the 
decks in one great flat roar of force that you could 
almost see; the ship lay over so that as we hauled 
to wind’ard the slightest roll sent us sprawling. 

It took over an hour to get the cro’jack hauled 
up in its gear, and as long again to get it fast 


aloft. The canvas was drenched through and 
through with rain and sea; if it had been flat 
calm it would have been heavy work getting it in. 
But with such a wind! We fought it piece by 
piece, the fifteen of us—three were at the wheel 
and one was for’ard on the look-out—with the 
mates, fighting together, all as close as possible 
on the yard. We fought it in the middle first, and 
got the gaskets around it, though it was not 
properly fast. That was only a preliminary 
move to take some of the weight out of it in 
order that we could move farther out along the 
weather side and attack it there. But that pre¬ 
liminary move took half an hour, and our muscles 
ached abominably long before we moved out en 
masse to the battle with the weather leach. It 
was here that the real fight took place; once that 
was fast, the rest of the sail was child’s play. It 
is wonderful how vitalizing strong wind is, felt 
in a gamely fighting sailing ship high aloft. 

It has been intended to leave the ship at that, 
with the mains’l and the lower t’gallants’ls still, 
on her, which was a power of canvas. She was 
shortened down enough, we thought, and the 
watch below was told to stand by. But she was 
not shortened down enough at all, and the wind 
pretty soon told us so. I was at the weather 
wheel a little later—and the work there was 
harder and more trying than any aloft, by the 
way—when there came a mad noise from for’ard 
and a swift rush of electric sparks. It was thought 
for the moment that the maintop-mast stay had 
gone, which might have been very serious for 
us, but it was only the stays’l which is set upon it, 
and the flying rush of the steel hanks to which it 


was bent had caused the sparks. That was bad 
enough, in any case ; the tom canvas flapped and 
boomed and thundered about the fore-deck, with 
the steel sheet and heavy tackle that had held it 
flying in all directions. Again ah hands were 
called, and though it did not take long to get the 
broken stays’l fast, that was only the beginning. 
The mainsail came in—a huge wet bag of wind- 
distended canvas, a sheer hundred feet across the 
head and forty feet deep. We got it fast; and 
then the night began in earnest. The lower 
t’gallants’ls had to come in, and the buntlines 
began to carry away. 

Falmouth for Orders. 1929. 



The Sheep Shearers 

The immense emptiness of Australia, felt by all 
who leave the railways even for a mile or two, 
becomes a positive quality when you reach 
Central Australia. This emptiness establishes 
a new sort of relationship between wayfarers in 
the desert—desert only in the sense of loneliness, 
for the soil will grow anything, and many stations, 
including the one that gave me hospitality, enjoy 
twenty-four inches of rain within the year. As 
we motored on and on across the downs, seeing 
little beyond the tall yellow grasses, reaches of 
eucalyptus scrub and occasional fences between 
the league-long “ paddocks," we passed now and 
again a horseman or a couple of pedestrians with 
their swag upon their shoulders, making straight 
across country. The less well-equipped of these 
wanderers receive, as a matter of course, a gift 
of plentiful rations at any stations they pass. 
The provision of meat and bread for them is a 
definite but unconsidered part of the expenses of 
a station. Universal hospitality is, and must be, 
a social obligation in such places. Not to give 
would be as bad as, say, to leave a gate open or 


to let rabbits multiply, both unpardonable crimes-. 
Yet people who pass one another on the journey 
as often as not make no friendly sign whatever. 
The companion who was driving me through some 
of the sheep country to witness a great shearing 
just once stopped to talk with an old acquaintance 
who had worked with him for years some while 
ago. The two were obviously glad to meet, but 
neither could find anything whatever to say. 
After a few barely articulate questions and 
staccato responses, a hopeless silence fell between 
them. My friend, after shifting from foot to foot 
for a little, got back into the car, and the other, 
towering above him on the whip-seat of a huge 
wool-wagon, called to his horses; and the en¬ 
counter was over. Lonely men do not converse 
easily till some real subject is opened. The next 
people we passed were two men with six light 
horses, nearly thoroughbred. They were con¬ 
jectured to be off west to arrange some fencing 
contract. Later we met and passed a low, much- 
loaded cart of curious pattern. The outfit pro¬ 
claimed the business. The driver was the cook 
or his boy, and they were off ahead, according 
to the unvarying custom, to prepare a camp and 
a dinner for the stock-men. These, as prophesied, 
we met later driving some fifteen thousand sheep 
before them. We had now struck a stock route, 
well trodden, and for many hundred yards on 
either side the grass was eaten to the bone by 
successive heads. Presently we passed a second 
wool-wagon, carrying twelve tons of bales and 
drawn by twenty-four heavy horses, most of them 
Clydesdales of good type. We were close to the 
homestead and the shearing shed. 



Presently they came into sight, and in spite of 
pamphlets and illustrations and books that I had 
read about the master industry of Australia, I 
was wholly unprepared for one part of the 
spectacle. Corailed up outside the central shed 
were many thousand merino sheep, the foremost 
pressing up a wooden incline leading into the 
upper storey of the shed. How was it possible 
that such a continuous stream should enter the 
considerable, but by no means vast buil ding ? 
I could see no sheep emerge. They might have 
been going into a Chicago packing house. The 
mystery, of course, like most mysteries, was no 
mystery. When later I went up into the long 
bam that occupied the whole length of the shed, 
I saw some forty men wielding forty machines; 
and could have spent hours watching the cyclopean 
work. The heavy wood-work gave a cloistral 
appearance to a building that outside was ugly 
with the incomparable ugliness of corrugated iron; 
and the lazy sunshine from a fleckless sky gave 
place to an almost religious light, where, if “ to 
work is to pray,” men prayed with fervour 
indeed. I have never before seen so much energy 
so effectively applied. The team of shearers, 
young, and athletic in type, each handled an 
electrically driven clipping machine; and as it 
pressed home to the roots of the fleece, the wool 
peeled back very much as water is folded aside 
by the bow of a ship travelling fast and smoothly 
through still water. The men were stripped almost 
as men working before a furnace ; and the sweat- 
drops fell from their forehead on to the sheep 
huddled at their feet. Few animals struggled or 
so much as showed restiveness. They doubtless 


felt themselves helpless in such forcible and skilful 
hands. It took just over two minutes to disengage 
the fleece of a heavy merino. The moment that 
the fleece fell the young athlete had the sheep on 
its legs, pushed it by the rump between his 
straddled legs, and hustled it down a sloping 
gangway to a narrow pen beneath. Instantly 
a second unshorn sheep was dragged out from the 
pen behind the shearer, and on the same level. 
Sometimes the man would pause just a moment 
or two to drink a few drops of water from a 
primeval drinking gourd hung on a beam behind 
him ; but that was the only sort of cessation. 

Each man’s tally was kept by means of a count 
of the shorn animals that were cooped in the 
narrow pen below and behind the shed ; and lest 
the men should work too jealously, and perhaps 
hurt the sheep in their competitive zeal, each 
tally was a secret between the shearer and the 
manager. I was let into it, and saw that ten men 
were shearing an average of over two hundred 
sheep in a day of about seven working hours. 
The price to the shearer was two pounds a hun¬ 
dred. The neck of a merino is peculiarly difficult 
to shear, but the men seemed to drive the machine 
into the heavy folds with the rough energy of a 
crow-bar driven into the ground. Yet the anim als 
did not appear to suffer. Each bled a fraction like 
the chin of a badly shaven man, but you could 
see no conscious discomfort. 

The intensive energy of the shearers imparted 
itself to all the workers : the men with the brooms 
(made out of the straw and ear of brown millet) 
swept up the relic wool as if their life depended 
on it. The quickest, most continuous worker of 

( 4 , 297 ) 167 12 


all—though, of course, his work was not mus¬ 
cularity heavy—was the classer. Every fleece 
after being trimmed on a central counter, or grid, 
through which the smaller fragments fell, was laid 
on a board before him. He took one little piece 
between the finger and thumb of the two hands, 
gave it a sharp jerk to test the strength, and 
instantly called out the number of the grade. 
In that instant, by trained touch and sight, he 
had decided on the grade ; and the five qualities 
were stacked into compartments behind his 
counter before being pressed into bales. 

The papers had been full of accounts of the 
shearers’ strike, of men “ striking on the job ” 
or going slow. It was my fortune not to see this 
side of things, but to watch a team of piece¬ 
workers who put more intensive energy into their 
toil than I had ever seen or indeed thought 
possible. They performed an astonishingly ath¬ 
letic feat. Australia may be described as a 
country where the people have an inor dina te 
power of work qualified by an inordinate desire 
to play. 

A Traveller in News. 1925. 




Winter in the Antarctic 

The view from eight hundred feet up the mountain 
was magnificent and I got my spectacles out and 
cleared the ice away time after time to look. To 
the east a great field of pressure ridges below, 
looking in the moonlight as if giants had been 
ploughing with ploughs which made furrows fifty 
or sixty feet deep: these ran right up to the 
Barrier edge, and beyond was the frozen Ross Sea, 
lying flat, white and peaceful as though such 
things as blizzards were unknown. To the north 
and north-east the Knoll. Behind us Mount 
Terror on which we stood, and over all the grey 
limitless Barrier seemed to cast a spell of cold 
immensity, vague, ponderous, a breeding-place of 
wind and drift and darkness. God! What a 

There was now little moonlight or daylight, 
but for the next forty-eight hours we used both 
to their utmost, being up at all times by day and 
night, and often working on when there was great 
difficulty in seeing anything; digging by the light 
of the hurricane lamp. By the end of two days 
we had the walls built, and banked up to one or 


two feet from the top; we were to fit the roof 
doth dose before banking up the rest. The great 
difficulty in banking was the hardness of the snow, 
it being impossible to fill in the cracks between 
the blocks which were more like paving-stones 
than anything else. The door was in, being a 
triangular tent doorway, with flaps which we 
built close in to the walls, cementing it with snow 
and rocks. The top folded over a plank and the 
bottom was dug into the ground. 

Birdie was very disappointed that we could 
not finish the whole thing that day : he was nearly 
angry about it, but there was a lot to do yet and 
we were tired out. We turned out early the next 
morning (Tuesday 18 th) to try and finish the 
igloo, but it was blowing too hard. When we got 
to the top we did some digging, but it was quite 
impossible to get the roof on, and we had to leave 
it. We realized that day that it blew much harder 
at the top of the slope than where our tent was. 
It was bitterly cold up there that morning with 
a wind force 4-5 and a minus thirty temperature. 

The oil question was worrying us quite a lot. 
We were now well in to the fifth of our six tins, 
and economizing as much as possible, often having 
only two hot meals a day. We had to get down 
to the Emperor penguins somehow and get some 
blubber to run the stove which has been made for 
us in the hut. The 15th being a calm fine day 
we started at 9.30, with an empty sledge, two 
ice-axes, Alpine rope, harnesses and skinning 

Wilson had made this journey through the 
Cape Crozier pressure ridges several times in the 
Discovery days. But then they had daylight, and 


they had found a practicable way close under the 
cliffs which at the present moment were between 
us and the ridges. 

As we neared the bottom of the mountain slope, 
farther to the north than we had previously gone, 
we had to be careful about crevasses, but we soon 
hit off the edge of the cliff and skirted along it 
until it petered out on the same level as the 
Barrier. Turning left-handed we headed towards 
the sea-ice, knowing that there w r ere some two 
miles of pressure between us and Cape Crazier 
itself. For about half a mile it was fair going, 
rounding big knobs of pressure, but always 
managing to keep more or less on the flat and near 
the ice-cliff which soon rose to a very great height 
on our left. Bill’s idea was to try to keep close 
under this cliff, along that same Discovery way 
which I have mentioned above. They never 
arrived there early enough for the eggs in those 
days: the chicks were hatched. Whether we 
should now find any Emperors, and if so whether 
they would have any eggs, was by no means 

However, we soon began to get into trouble, 
meeting several crevasses every few yards, and 
I have no doubt crossing scores of others of which 
we had no knowledge. Though we hugged the 
cliffs as close as possible we found ourselves on 
the top of the first pressure ridge, separated by a 
deep gulf from the ice-slope which we wished 
to reach. Then we were in a great valley between 
the first and second ridges: we got into huge 
heaps of ice pressed up in every shape on every 
side, crevassed in every direction: we slithered 
over snow-slopes and crawled along drift ridges, 


trying to get in towards the cliffs. And always 
we came up against impossible places and had to 
crawl back. Bill led on a length of Alpine rope 
fastened to the toggle of the sledge; Birdie was 
in his harness also fastened to the toggle, and 
I was in my harness fastened to the rear of the 
sledge, which was of great use to us both as a 
bridge and a ladder. 

Two or three times we tried to get down the 
ice-slopes to the comparatively level road under 
the cliff, but it was always too great a drop. 
In that dim light every proportion was dis¬ 
torted; some of the places we actually did 
manage to negotiate with ice-axes and Alpine 
rope looked absolute precipices, and there were 
always crevasses at the bottom if you slipped. 
On the way back I did slip into one of these and 
was hauled out by the other two standing on the 
wall above me. 

We then worked our way down into the hollow 
between the first and second large pressure ridges, 
and I believe on to the top of the second. The 
crests here rose fifty or sixty feet. After this I 
don't know where we went. Our best landmarks 
were patches of crevasses, sometimes three or 
four in a few footsteps. The temperatures were 
lowish (—37°), it was impossible for me to wear 
spectacles, and this was a tremendous difficulty 
to me and a handicap to the party ; Bill would 
find a crevasse and point it out; Birdie would 
cross ; and then time after time, in trying to step 
over or climb over the sledge, I put my feet right 
into the middle of the cracks. This day I went 
well in at least six times; once, when we were 
dose to the sea, rolling into and out of one and 


then down a steep slope until brought up by 
Birdie and Bill on the rope. 

We blundered along until we got into a great 
cul-de-sac which probably formed the end of the 
two ridges, where they butted on to the sea-ice. 
On all sides rose great walls of battered ice with 
steep snow-slopes in the middle, where we 
slithered about and blundered into crevasses. 
To the left rose the huge cliff of Cape Crozier, 
but we could not tell whether there were not two 
or three pressure ridges between us and it, and 
though we tried at least four ways, there was no 
possibility of getting forward. 

And then we heard the Emperors calling. 

Their cries came to us from the sea-ice we could 
not see, but which must have been a chaotic 
quarter of a mile away. They came echoing back 
from the cliffs, as we stood helpless and tantalized. 
We listened and realized that there was nothing 
for it but to return, for the little light which now 
came in the middle of the day was going fast, and 
to be caught in absolute darkness there was a 
horrible idea. We started back on our tracks 
and almost immediately I lost my footing and 
rolled down a slope into a crevasse. Birdie and 
Bill kept their balance and I clambered back to 
them. The tracks were very faint and we soon 
began to lose them. Birdie was the best man at 
following tracks that I have ever known, and he 
found them time after time. But at last even he 
lost them altogether and we settled we must just 
go ahead. As a matter of fact, we picked them 
up again, and by then were out of the worst: 
but we were glad to see the tent. 

The next morning (Thursday, June 20) we 


started work on the igloo at 3 a.m. and managed 
to get the canvas roof on in spite of a wind which 
harried us all that day. Little did we think what 
that roof had in store for us as we packed it in 
with snow blocks, stretching it over our second 
sledge, which we put athwartsljjps across the 
middle of the longer walls. The windward (south) 
end came right down to the ground and we tied 
it securely to rocks before packing it in. On the 
other three sides we had a good two feet or more 
of slack all round, and in every case we tied it to 
rocks by lanyards at intervals of two feet. The 
door was the difficulty, and for the present we 
left the cloth arching over the stones, forming a 
kind of portico. The whole was well packed in 
and over with slabs of hard snow, but there was 
no soft snow with which to fill up the gaps between 
the blocks. However, we felt already that 
nothing could drag that roof out of its packing, 
and subsequent events proved that we were right. 

It was a bleak job for three o’clock in the 
morning before breakfast, and we were glad to 
get back to the tent and a meal, for we meant 
to have another go at the Emperors that day. 
With the first glimpse of light we were off for the 
rookery again. 

But we now knew one or two things about that 
pressure which we had not known twenty-four 
hours ago ; for instance, that there was a lot of 
alteration since the Discovery days and that 
probably the pressure was bigger. As a matter of 
fact it has been since proved by photographs that 
the ridges now ran out three-quarters of a mile 
farther into the sea than they did ten years 
before. We knew also that if we entered the 


pressure at the only place where the ice-cliffs 
came down to the level of the Barrier, as we did 
yesterday, we could neither penetrate to the 
rookery nor get in under the cliffs where formerly 
a possible way had been found. There was only 
one other thing to do—to go over the cliff. And 
this was what we proposed to try and do. 

Now these ice-cliffs are some two hundred feet 
high, and I felt uncomfortable, especially in the 
dark. But as we came back the day before we 
had noticed at one place a break in the cliffs from 
which there hung a snow-drift. It might be 
possible to get down that drift. 

And so, all harnessed to the sledge, with Bill 
on a long lead out in front and Birdie and myself 
checking the sledge behind, we started down the 
slope which ended in the cliff, which, of course, 
we could not see. We crossed a number of small 
crevasses, and soon we knew we must be nearly 
there. Twice we crept up to the edge of the cliff 
with no success, and then we found the slope: 
more, we got down it -without great difficulty, and 
it brought us out just where we wanted to be, 
between the land cliffs and the pressure. 

Then began the most exciting climb among the 
pressure that you can imagine. At first very 
much as it was the day before—pulling ourselves 
and one another up ridges, slithering dov r n slopes, 
tumbling into and out of crevasses and holes of 
all sorts, we made our way along under the cliffs 
which rose higher and higher above us as we neared 
the black lava precipices which form Cape Crozier 
itself. We straddled along the top of a snow- 
ridge with a razor-backed edge, balancing the 
sledge between us as we wriggled : on our right 


was a drop of great depth with crevasses at the 
bottom, on our left was a smaller drop also cre- 
vassed. We crawled along, and I can tell you it 
was exciting work in the more than half-darkness. 
At the end was a series of slopes full of crevasses, 
and finally we got right in under the rock on to 
moraine, and here we had to leave the sledge. 

We roped up, and started to worry along under 
the cliffs, which had now changed from ice to 
rock, and rose 800 feet above us. The tumult 
of pressure which climbed against them showed 
no order here. Four hundred miles of moving 
ice behind it had just tossed and twisted those 
giant ridges until Job himself would have lacked 
words to reproach their Maker. We scrambled 
over and under, hanging on with our axes, and 
cutting steps where we could not find a foothold 
with our crampons. And always we got towards 
the Emperor penguins, and it really began to look 
as if we were going to do it this time, when we 
came up against a wall of ice which a single glance 
told us we could never cross. One of the largest 
pressure ridges had been thrown, end on, against 
the cliff. We seemed to be stopped, when Bill 
found a black hole, something like a fox’s earth, 
disappearing into the bowels of the ice. We 
looked at it: “ Well, here goes ! ” he said, and 
put his head in, and disappeared. Bowers like¬ 
wise. It was a longish way, but quite possible 
to wriggle along, and presently I found myself 
looking out of the other side with a deep gully 
below me, the rock face on one hand and the ice 
on the other. “ Put your back against the ice 
and your feet against the rock and lever yourself 
along,” said Bill, who was already standing on 


firm ice at tlie far end in a snow pit. We cut some 
fifteen steps to get out of that hole. Excited by 
now, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves, we found 
the way ahead easier, until the penguins' call 
reached us again and we stood, three crystallized 
ragamuffins, above the Emperors’ home. They 
were there all right, and we were going to reach 
them, but where were all the thousands of which 
we had heard ? 

We stood on an ice-foot which was really a 
dwarf cliff some twelve feet high, and the sea-ice, 
with a good many ice-blocks strewn upon it, lay 
below. The cliff dropped straight, with a bit of 
an overhang and no snow-drift. This may have 
been because the sea had only frozen recently; 
whatever the reason may have been it meant that 
we should have a lot of difficulty in getting up 
again without help. It was decided that some one 
must stop on the top with the Alpine rope, and 
clearly that one should be I, for with short sight 
and fogged spectacles which I could not wear I 
was much the least useful of the party for the job 
immediately ahead. Had we had the sledge 
we would have used it as a ladder, but of course 
we had left this at the beginning of the moraine 
miles back. 

We saw the Emperors standing all together 
huddled under the Barrier cliff some hundreds of 
yards away. The little light was going fast: we 
were much more excited about the approach of 
complete darkness and the look of wind in the 
south than we were about our triumph. After 
indescribable effort and hardship we were wit¬ 
nessing a marvel of the natural world, and we 
were the first and only men who had ever done 


so; we had within our grasp material which 
might prove of the utmost importance to science; 
we were turning theories into facts with every 
observation we made—and we had but a moment 
to give. 

The Worst Journey in the World, Vol. I. 1922. 



Cape Horn Calm 

Off Cape Horn there are but two kinds of weather, 
neither one of them a pleasant kind. If you get 
the fine kind it is dead calm, without enough wind 
to lift the wind vane. The sea lies oily and 
horrible, heaving in slow, solemn swells, the 
colour of soup. The sky closes down upon the 
sea all round you, the same colour as the water. 
The sun never shines over those seas, though 
sometimes there is a red flush, in the east or in 
the west, to hint that somewhere, very far away, 
there is daylight brightening the face of things. 

If you are in a ship in the Cape Horn calm you 
forge ahead, under all sail, a quarter of a mile an 
hour. The swell heaves you up and drops you, 
in long, slow, gradual movements, in a rhythm 
beautiful to mark. You roll, too, in a sort of 
horrible crescendo, half a dozen rolls and a lull. 
You can never tell when she will begin to roll. 
She will begin quite suddenly, for no apparent 
reason. She will go over and over with a rattling 
clatter of blocks and chains. Then she will swing 
back, groaning along the length of her, to slat 
the great sails and set the reef-points flogging, 


to a hard dack and jangle of staysail sheets. 
Then over she will go again, and back, and again 
over, rolling farther each time. At the last of her 
rolls there comes a clattering of tins, as the galley 
gear and whack pots slither across to leeward, 
followed by cursing seamen. The iron swing-ports 
bang to and fro. The straining and groaning 
sounds along her length. Every block aloft cracks 
and whines. The sea splashes up the scuppers. 
The sleepers curse her from their bunks for a 
drunken drogher. Then she lets up and stands 
on her dignity, and rolls no more perhaps for 
another quarter of an hour. 

It is cold, this fine variety, for little snow squalls 
are always blowing by, to cover the decks with 
soft dry snow, and to melt upon the sails. If 
you go aloft you must be careful what you touch. 
If you touch a wire shroud, or a chain sheet, the 
skin comes from your hand as though a hot iron 
had scarred it. If you but scratch your hand aloft, 
in that fierce cold, the scratch will suppurate. I 
broke the skin of my hand once with a jagged 
scrap of wire in the main-rigging. The scratch 
festered so that I could not move my hand for a 
week. It was a little scratch, the eighth of an 
inch long. It has left its mark. The sailors used 
to prophesy that it would cause the loss of my 

On the whole we had an easy time of it in the 
Cape Horn calm. No work was being done about 
decks. Our rigging was all set up, our blocks all 
greased and overhauled, our chafing gear in its 
place, and the heavy-weather sails bent. When 
we came on deck we had little to do but stand by 
ready for a call, while the flurries of snow blew 


past and the ship’s planking creaked. The old 
man was fond of mat-making. I don't know how 
he made the mats, whether with a “sword,” 
in the usual way, or by a needle upon canvas. 
He used the coarse thread of bunting for his 
material. He made the boys unravel some old 
signal flags into little balls of thread while we were 
rolling in the swell. That was nearly all the work 
we did while the calm lasted. 

When we were down below in the half-deck, the 
little room twelve feet square, where the six boys 
lived and slept, we were almost happy. We had 
rigged up a bogey stove, with a chimney which 
kmked into elbows whenever the roll was very 
heavy. It did not bum very well, this bogey 
stove, but we contrived to cook by it. We were 
only allowed coke for fuel, but we always managed 
to steal coal enough either from the cook or from 
the coal-hole. It was our great delight to sit upon 
our chests in the dog watch, looking at the bogey, 
listening to the creaking chimney, watching the 
smoke pouring out from the chinks. In the night 
watches, when the sleepers lay quiet in their 
bunks behind the red baize curtains, one or two 
of us who kept the deck would creep below to put 
on coal. That was the golden time, the time of 
the night watch, to sit there in the darkness 
among the sleepers hearing the coals click. 

One of us in each night watch made cocoa for 
the others. At about four bells, when the watch 
was half through, the cocoa-maker would slink 
below to put the kettle on to boil and to mix the 
brew in the pannikins. There is an old poet (I 
think it is Ben Jonson; it may be Marlowe) who 
asks, “ Where are there greater atheists than your 


cooks ? ” I would ask, less rhythmically perhaps, 
“ Where are there loftier thinkers than your 
cocoa-makers ? ” Ah, what profound thoughts 
I thought; what mute, but Miltonic, poetry I 
made in that dim half-deck, by the smoky bogey, 
in the night, in the stillness, amid the many 
waters. The kings were ashore in their palaces, 
tossing uneasily (as who would not) upon their 
purple pillows. Couriers were flogging spent 
horses along the roads of the world, bringing news 
of battle, of death, of pestilence. Soldiers were 
going into action. Prisoners were scraping shot 
in the chain gang. Women were weeping, and the 
huntsmen were up in America. Sitting there in 
the dim half-deck, watching the kettle boil, I saw 
it all. I was like Buddha under the holy branches. 
My mind filled with pictures like the magical water 
in the bowl of a wizard. 

Then what a joy it was to take the cocoa tin, 
containing a greasy dark stuff of cocoa and con¬ 
densed milk, already mixed. One put a spoonful 
into each pannikin and then a spoonful of soft, 
brown, lumpy ship’s sugar. Then with the spoon, 
or with a sheath knife, one bruised the ingredients 
together. With what a luscious crunch they 
blended! How perfect was the smell of the 
crushed mixture ! How it covered away, like the 
smell of incense at a Mass, the rude, worldly 
scents such as tar, and stale Negro Head, and 
oilskins, and newly greased sea boots. Then, as 
one mixed, one would hear the bells struck. Ting, 
ting. Ting, ting. Ting. Five bells—an hour 
and a half before the watch would end. One 
would hear the old men of the sea, the old sailors, 
as they shambled along to and fro biting on the 


pipe-stems, yarning about ships that were long 
ago bilged on the coral. One would hear the 
scraps of songs, little stray verses, set to old 
beautiful tunes. There was one old man who had 
no better voice than a donkey. He was for ever 
walking the deck when I brewed the cocoa, singing 
“ Rolling Home,” the most popular of all sailor 
songs. I think I would rather have written 
“ Rolling Home ” than “ Hydriotaphia.” If I 
had written “ Rolling Home ” I would pass my 
days at sea or in West Coast nitrate ports hearken¬ 
ing to the roll and the roar of it as the yards go 
jolting up the mast or the anchor comes to the 

Pipe all hands to man the capstan, see your cables run 
down clear. 

Heave away, and with a will, boys, 'ids to old England’s 
shores we steer; 

And we’ll sing in joyous chorus in the watches of the 

For we’ll sight the shores of England when the grey dawn 
brings the light. 

I used to think that stanza, as the old sailor sang 
it in the dark watches, the most beautiful thing 
the tongue of man ever spoke. 

While he sang, I used to take little tentative 
nibbles at the compound in the pannikins. Have 
you ever been an exile, reader, at sea, in pr-s-n, 
or somewhere, where the simple needs of life cannot 
possibly be gratified ? If you have you will know 
how that sweet mush of cocoa tasted. It was like 
bubbling water in the desert, like fern fronds above 
cool springs, like the voice of the bird in the moon¬ 
light, in the green shadows, in some southern spice 
garden, drowsy with odours. It was like a night 

( 4 , 297 ) 183 13 


in June in the forest, by the babbling brook, when 
the moon rises, red and solemn, over the hills 
where the deer feed. Ah, the taste of it! the scent 
of it l the hidden meaning of it! 

Then as I nibbled, the kettle would come to the 
boil and the brew would be made. My watch- 
mate would come below puffing his pipe, humming 
his favourite tune of “ The Sailor’s Wives.” I 
would fill a pannikin and carry it aft to the boy 
on the poop, my watch-mate stationed there, 
keeping the time. Round us were the waters, dark 
and ghostly; . the crying sea-birds ; the whales 
with their pants and spoutings. There were the 
masts and the great sails filling and slatting. There 
were the sailors lying on the deck, their pipe- 
bowls ruddy in the blackness. There was the 
murmuring and talking sea, full of mysterious 
menace. And the sailors’ quiet talk, and the 
smell of tar from the sailroom, and the man at 
the wheel abaft all, and the lame mate limping 
to the binnacle—it was all beautiful, solemn, 
sacred, like a thing in a dream. And then the 
taste of the brew, when one settled down in the 
half-deck. The talk we had, my sleepy mate and 
I; talk of work and of ships, of topsails and mer¬ 
maids, the old beautiful talk of youth, that needs 
but a listener to be brilliant. 

A Tarpaulin Muster. April 1907* 



In Patagonia 

Further on in my rambles I discover a nest of the 
large black leaf-cutting ant ( (Ecodoma ) found over 
the entire South American continent—and a lead¬ 
ing member of that social tribe of insects of which 
it has been said that they rank intellectually next 
to ourselves. Certainly this ant, in its actions, 
simulates man’s intellect very closely, and not in 
the unpleasant manner of species having warrior 
castes and slaves. The leaf-cutter is exclusively 
agricultural in its habits, and constructs sub¬ 
terranean galleries, in which it stores fresh leaves 
in amazing quantities. The leaves are not eaten, 
but are cut up into small pieces and arranged in 
beds: these beds quickly become frosted over 
with a growth of minute fungus; this the ant 
industriously gathers and stores for use, and when 
the artificial bed is exhausted the withered leaves 
are carried out to make room for a layer of fresh 
ones. Thus the (Ecodoma literally grows its own 
food, and in this respect appears to have reached 
a stage beyond the most highly developed ant 
communities hitherto described. Another in¬ 
teresting fact is that, although the leaf-cutters 


have a peaceful disposition, never showing resent¬ 
ment except when gratuitously interfered with, 
they are just as courageous as any purely preda¬ 
tory species, only their angry emotions and warlike 
qualities always appear to be dominated by reason 
and the public good. Occasionally a community 
of leaf-cutters goes to war with a neighbour ing 
colony of ants of some other species; in this, 
as in everything else, they seem to act with a 
definite purpose and great deliberation. Wars are 
infrequent, but in all those I have witnessed—and 
I have known this species from childhood—the 
fate of the nation is decided in one great pitched 
battle. A spacious bare level spot of ground is 
chosen, where the contending armies meet, the 
fight raging for several hours at a stretch, to be 
renewed on several consecutive days. The com¬ 
batants, equally sprinkled over a wide area, are 
seen engaged in single combat or in small groups, 
while others, non-fighters, run briskly about re¬ 
moving the dead and disabled warriors from the 
field of battle. 

Perhaps some reader, who has made the ac¬ 
quaintance of nature in a London square, will 
smile at my wonderful ant story. Well, I have 
smiled too, and cried a little perhaps, when, 
witnessing one of these " decisive battles of the 
world,” I have thought that the stable civilization 
of the (Ecodoma ants will probably continue to 
flourish on the earth when our feverish dream of 
progress has ceased to vex it. Does that notion 
seem very fantastical ? Might not such a thought 
have crossed the mind of some priestly Peruvian, 
idly watching the labours of a colony of leaf- 
cutters—a thousand years ago, let us say, before 


the canker had entered into his system to make 
it, long ere the Spaniard came, ripe for death ? 
History preserves one brief fragment which goes 
to show that the Incas themselves were not 
altogether enslaved by the sublime traditions they 
taught the vulgar ; that they also possessed, like 
philosophic moderns, some conception of that im¬ 
placable power of nature which orders all things, 
and is above Viracoclia and Pachacamac and the 
majestic gods that rode the whirlwind and tem¬ 
pest, and had their thrones on the everlasting 
peaks of the Andes. Five or six centuries have 
probably made little change in the economy of 
the (Ecodoma , but the splendid civilization of the 
children of the sun, albeit it bore on the face of 
it the impress of unchangeableness and endless 
duration, has vanished utterly from the earth. 

To return from this digression. The nest I have 
discovered is more populous than London, and 
there are several roads diverging from it, each 
one four or five inches wide, and winding away 
hundreds of yards through the bushes. Never 
was any thoroughfare in a great city fuller of busy 
hurrying people than one of these roads. Sitting 
beside one, just where it wound over the soft 
yellow sand, I grew tired of watching the endless 
procession of little toilers, each one carrying a leaf 
in his jaws ; and very soon there came into my 
ear a whisper from somebody: 

Who finds some mischief still 

For idle hands to do. 

It is always pleasant to have even a hypothet¬ 
ical somebody on whom to shuffle the responsi¬ 
bility of our evil actions. Warning my conscience 


that I am only going to try a scientific experiment, 
one not nearly so cruel as many in which the pious 
Spallanzani took great delight, I scoop a deep pit 
in the sand ; and the ants, keeping on their way 
with their usual blind, stupid sagacity, tumble 
pell-mell over each other into it. On, on they 
come, in scores and in hundreds, like an endless 
flock of sheep jumping down a pit into which the 
crazy bell-wether has led the way: soon the 
hundreds have swelled to thousands, and the 
yawning gulf begins to fill with an inky mass of 
wriggling, biting, struggling ants. Every falling 
leaf-cutter carries down a few grains of treacherous 
sand with it, making the descent easier, and soon 
the pit is full to overflowing. In five minutes 
more they will all be out again at their accustomed 
labours, just a little sore about the legs, perhaps, 
where they have bitten one another, but no worse 
for their tumble, and all that will remain of the 
dreadful cavern will be a slight depression in the 

Satisfied with the result, I resume my solitary 
ramble, and by-and-by coming upon a fine Escan- 
dalosa bush I resolve to add incendiarism to my 
list of misdeeds. It might appear strange that a 
bush should be called Escandalosa, which means 
simply Scandalous, or, to prevent mistakes, which 
simply means Scandalous ; but this is one of those 
quaint names the Argentine peasants have be¬ 
stowed on some of their curious plants—dry love, 
the devil's snuff-box, bashful weed, and many 
others. The Escandalosa is a wide-spreading 
shrub, three to five feet high, thickly clothed with 
prickly leaves, and covered all the year round 
with large pale-yellow immortal flowers; and the 


curious thing about the plant is that when touched 
with fire it blazes up like a pile of wood shavings, 
and is immediately consumed to ashes with a 
marvellous noise of hissing and crackling. And 
thus the bush I have found burns itself up on my 
placing a lighted match at its roots. 

I enjoy the spectacle amazingly while it lasts, 
the brilliant tongues of white flame darting and 
leaping through the dark foliage making a very 
pretty show; but presently, contemplating the 
heap of white ashes at my feet where the green 
miracle, covered with its everlasting flowers, 
flourished a moment ago, I begin to feel heartily 
ashamed of myself. For how have I spent my 
day ? I remember with remorse the practical 
joke perpetrated on the simple-minded coots, also 
the consternation caused to a whole colony of 
industrious ants ; for the idler looks impatiently 
on the occupations of others, and is always glad 
of an opportunity of showing up the futility of their 
labours. But what motive had I in burning this 
flowering bush that neither toiled nor spun, this 
slow-growing plant, useless amongst plants as I 
amongst my fellow-men ? Is it not the fact that 
something of the spirit of our simian progenitors 
survives in us still ? Who that has noticed 
monkeys in captivity—their profound inconse¬ 
quent gravity and insane delight in their own 
unreasonableness—has not envied them their 
immunity from cold criticism ? That intense 
relief which all men, whether grave or gay, 
experience in escaping from conventional tram¬ 
mels into the solitude, what is it, after all, but the 
delight of going back to nature, to be for a time, 
what we are always pining to be, wild animals, 


unconfined monkeys, with nothing to restrain us 
in our gambols, and with only a keener sense of 
the ridiculous to distinguish us from other crea¬ 
tures ? 

But what, I suddenly think, if some person in 
search of roots and gums, or only curious to know 
how a field naturalist spends his days, gunless 
in the woods, should be secretly following and 
watching me all the time ? 

I spring up alarmed, and cast my eyes rapidly 
around me. Merciful heavens ! what is that 
suspiciously human-looking object seventy yards 
away amongst the bushes ? Ah, relief inexpress¬ 
ible, it is only the pretty hare-like Dolichotis 
fiatagomca sitting up on his haunches, gazing at 
me with a meek wonder in his large round timid 

The little birds are bolder and come in crowds, 
peering curiously from every twig, chirping and 
twittering with occasional explosi'ons of shrill 
derisive laughter. I feel myself blushing all over 
my face; their j eering remarks become intolerable, 
and, owl-like, I fly from their persecutions to hide 
myself in a close thicket. There, with grey-green 
curtains about and around me, I lie on a floor of 
soft yellow sand, silent and motionless as my 
neighbour the little spider seated on his geometric 
web, till the waning light and the flute of the 
tinamou send me home to supper. 

Idle Days in Patagonia. 1893. 



The Upper Amazon 

We could go no further. Our steamer had left 
the sea weeks before, and had slowly serpentined 
her way into the heart of a continent. She had 
been persuaded over bars, she had waited 
patiently till floods gave her a chance to insinuate 
herself against the river current still deeper into 
this forest of the tropics. She had rounded bends 
so narrowly that her crew cheered derisively when 
her gear brought down showers of leaves and 
twigs from the overhanging front of the forest. 
When the monkeys answered our siren the bo'sun 
gave me a look, half appealing, half startled. 
But now we could go no further. We were nearly 
two thousand miles from the sea, and just ahead 
of us was an incline of foaming water. No ship 
had intruded into that solitude before ; beyond 
those cataracts, up into the unexplored wilderness, 
that river had its origin somewhere in the Andes 
of Bolivia. 

There we anchored. Both anchors were out, 
because two were necessary. It was doubted 
that two were enough. Mr. Bullock, the mate, 
was complaining bitterly. I was standing with 
him on the forecastle head, and we were both 


watching the taut cables, which at times were 
tremulous in the strain of the current. “ A nice 
thing,” he said, “ a nice thing. Ever see anything 
like it before ? It isn’t right.” 

What he was pointing to was certainly unusual. 
It is not right, or at least it is most irregular, for 
forest rubbish to gather in such a mass against 
a ship’s cables that the danger of something 
coming adrift is evident. " Ever see anything 
like it ? Eh ? I bet you haven’t, mister. It 
isn’t right. Trees and bamboos and meadows— 
a whole raft of it, like a day in the country. All 
it wants is a few cows. And what’s going to 
happen if she drags, in this place ? No steam 
and the damned jungle under our counter. We 
should have to rot here, mister, for we’d never 
get her off. We’re out of touch of everything 

So it seemed. Not only were great trees 
caught against the cables, but the trees were in 
green leaf. They were clouds of leaves, and 
perhaps birds were still perched in them. A few 
acres of top-heavy forest had collapsed into the 
river the night before, and there it was, or what 
was left of it, verdant and dense. No doubt 
more of it was to come. 

“ That's a new job for a sailor,” commented 
Mr. Bullock. “ Clearing away a copse from a 
ship’s bows. I shall have to get a boat away to 
see to that.” 

An area of the tangle, a stretch of meadow 
and a height of foliage, became agitated, and 
detached itself in the pull of the stream as we 
watched. _ It foundered a little, uplifted again, 
pivoted in a half-circle, came free, and went 


swiftly by the length of the ship, a travelling 
island. Behind it swam a peccary. 

“ There you are,” exclaimed the excited mate. 
" What did I tell you ? Pigs, mister. We’ll 
get the whole farmyard in a minute.” 

Next morning the surrounding forest seemed 
to have gone. Wc had nothing but an opaque 
silence about us. The vapours of the miasmic 
solitude shrouded the high palisades of trees and 
leaves. Somewhere the sun had just risen, and 
the mist was luminous. Imperceptibly the white 
steam rose, till the bottom of the forest across 
the water was plain. The jungle looked as though 
it were sheered off a few feet above the bank in 
a straight line. But the curtain rose quickly 
as I watched. To starboard again was the tower¬ 
ing and ominous barrier of still leaves and fronds, 
the place where no man had ever landed. The 
sun looked at us. Languor fell over the ship. 
The parrots and the monkeys cried aloud for a 
minute or two, and then the sky became silent. 
It was no place for a ship. That was an unpleasant 
word of the mate's, that we should rot. The 
sensation in that heated stillness, where there 
was nothing for us to do but to wait, was certainly 
of ferment and stagnation. The ironwork of the 
steamer felt like the plates of an oven. 

On the poop, under an awning, the steward was 
spreading our breakfast. The captain appeared, 
a slim and stooping figure in white linen and a 
Panama hat, and walked towards me, fingering 
his grey beard as he eyed things about him. 
He did not wear the expression of a man who 
would respond to a hearty “ good-morning.” 
He rested his hands on the bulwark and looked 


overside, contemplating the stream. He stopped 
by the open door of the Chief’s cabin, and won¬ 
dered to the engineer whether it might not be 
wise to rig a dam round the rudder, so that 
wreckage might not get entangled with the 
propeller. It was at that moment that pande¬ 
monium broke out in the bunkers. The noise rose 
through a bunker hatch, which was open for 
ventilation—yells, clanging of shovels, crowbars 
ringing on bulkheads, shouts, and hysterical 
laughter. The Chief came out in his pyjamas, 
and the three of us peered down into the twi¬ 
light below. 

The Chief bawled commands to his men. 
There was no answer. The infernal scuffling 
and clanging below went on. Then as suddenly 
it stopped. The Chief cried down peremptorily, 
and the stokers heard him. One of them appeared 
below us, a blackened gnome, his dirty mask 
veined with pink where the sweat ran. He was 
panting. When he saw the stern faces above him 
he showed a broad white smile. 

“ All right, sir, we’ve done him in. Took 
some doin’ though.” 

“ What the hell do you mean ? What’s this 
row about ? ” 

The man vanished. Some whispering went on 
under the deck. Then several stokers appeared, 
hauling on a rope. It had a great snake at the 
end pf it, its head limp, its body gashed. The 
hilarious stokers kicked and shoved the dead 
twelve feet of it into coils which we could inspect 
from above. 

“ There you are, sir,” said one of the showmen. 
" That's it. All right to find that in the coal, 


ain’t it ? You ought to have seen the way he 
scrapped. . . . And don't forget we didn’t sign 
on to kill boa-constrictors, sir,” added a quiet 
voice from the dark. 

“ I don’t wonder at it,” said the mate at break¬ 
fast. “ Crawled in by a hawse-pipe, of course. 
The ship will get full of ’em with that green stuff 
about the cables.” 

“ Glad to hear it. That will give us some 
compensation, captain,” our surgeon commented. 
“ Otherwise we should be dull here.” The 
surgeon’s mind was inclined to curiosity in way¬ 
ward things, and he always kept a butterfly-net 
handy. “ One of the men this morning showed 
me a wound on his elbow. It was hard to stop 
the bleeding. He didn’t know how he got it, 
and I didn’t tell him. But there are vampire 
bats in the fo’c’sle.” 

The captain gave an impatient exclamation 
and blamed the surgeon for frivolity. " Bats ! 
Vampire bats ! You talk like a novelist, doctor. 
Never head of bats in a fo’c'sle. You’re thinking 
of belfries.” 

The surgeon chuckled. " You’ll hear all right, 
captain, when the men find out.” 

The captain grumbled through all the meal. 
Place didn't smell like a ship, smelt like a hot¬ 
house. Nice place to be in. In all his years at 
sea, nothing like it. Another charter like this, and 
the owner could look after the boa-constrictors 
himself. “ Mr. Mate, just keep the men from 
thinking too much about it. A good time now to 
get some of that work done.” 

For me after breakfast, with the decorative 
office of supercargo, there was no work. There 


was only the forest to look at, the yellow flood 
with its flotsam, and the river ahead tumultuous 
and gleaming in the rapids. The heat increased. 
The silence was a heavy weight. One felt a little 
fearful because so much forest made no sound 
whatever, no more sound than if it had been a 
dream, not a murmur nor the rustle of a leaf. 
It was quite still, like an illusion of trees. We 
might have made a ridiculous escape to the world’s 
end, and now were a little scared, not knowing 
what to make of it. 

The only movement was the tumult of the 
cataracts, a glittering and flashing about a mass of 
black rocks. But that gave no sense that water 
was falling, but only that it was inclined, for its 
pour never ended. Beyond those rapids there was 
nothing ; only trees and the sun. Nobody had 
ever been there. There was no reason why a 
man should go. The summit of the cataracts, 
where black triangles of waves above our heads 
continually leaped but never seemed to descend, 
was the edge of the world. While I was gazing 
at that line of leaping waves, which stretched 
between the high barriers of the forest, the figure 
of a man appeared there. He poised for an instant 
on the verge, in the centre of the line, against the 
sky, arms stretched out as if in appeal, and then 
vanished in the spray below. 

“ See that ? ” exclaimed the Chief. He hurried 
along to me. “ See him ? That must have been 
an Indian. Couldn’t stop himself there. Can 
you see him now ? " 

We could not. We could see only the incline 
of heaving water. We must have been mistaken, 
and were beginning to argue about it when 


an object came slowly away from the foot of the 
falls. It was an overturned canoe. A swimmer 
righted it, got in, and began to paddle towards us. 

The man came alongside, standing up in his 
scallop, stark-naked, a paddle in his hand, grin¬ 
ning. I thought he must be of some unnamed tribe. 
He was a little lighter in colour than an Indian, 
but his curly black hair and beard made him 
remarkably different. The natives never have 
beards, though that difference was not so astonish¬ 
ing as his light-hearted grin, which was absurdly 
familiar in that laughless and inhuman wild. 
He did not speak, but airily waved his hand as 
he came alongside, and grabbed our Jacob’s 
ladder. Up he came, in leisured nonchalance. 

“ Pardon me,” he said, as he stood up, still 
smiling, before our gaping company of seamen, 
his fine body glistening. “ Anybody lend me a 
pair of pants ? ” 

Our captain was frowning at him in wonder, 
but at that he grimaced. “ Come aft,” he said. 
The brown figure nodded to us in good-humour, 
and followed the captain, stepping like a god. 
He turned, as he was about to descend the com¬ 
panion, and gazed at our house-flag. You may see 
profiles like his in any collection of Greek antiq¬ 
uities. When he had gone we leaned overside to 
stare at his dug-out canoe, hitched to our ladder. 
There was nothing in it but some arrows and a 
bow, and a machete, all lashed to a peg. 

The stranger, that night, came with the Chief 
to my cabin. He inspected our books in evident 
enjoyment. “Books!" he said. “Books, here! ” 

“You know,” he continued, looking round at 
us, “ I thought I’d gone light-headed when I saw 


your ship below the falls. I was so surprised 
that a jerk sent me overside, and I came down the 
rapids with an arm over the canoe. I was sure I 
was going to miss meeting you after all. Too bad! ” 
He gave us his name. It was that of a learned 
English judge. I reminded him of that. “ Oh 
yes. My father. He’d have been amused if he’d 
seen me this morning. Is he all right ? ” 

He was quite cool about it. This sort of thing, 
I gathered from his manner, might happen to 
anybody. " Never expected to meet Christians 
at a place like this.” 

Where had he come from ? " Mollendo,” he 

replied, rolling a cigarette. 

Was the man a liar ? Mollendo was a thousand 
miles away on the Pacific side. The Andes were 
between us. The youngster saw our doubt, and 
smiled. “ Yes,” he said. “ Mollendo. And I 
crossed the Andes, though don’t you do it unless 
you want to. This side of them I lost my gun. 
Lost everything. Got a canoe and some arrows 
and a bow, and here I am. You know,” he went 
on, " you can shoot fish with an arrow. I’ll show 
you in the morning. That’s how I lived, when I 
wasn’t with the natives.” 

“ Is that all ? ” I asked. I thought of the 
rumours of cannibals and head-hunters, and the 
stories of what was in store for those who ventured 
alone into the region beyond us. 

“ Well,” he said, taking down a book to see 
what it was, " well ... it took some months. 
It’s a bad country. But I say! Fancy your 
knowing my dad. I thought I was quite out of 
touch here.” 


Gifts of Fortune. 1926. 


The Peruvian Coast 

From Ancon north, practically to the border of 
Ecuador, I had planned to follow the coast. Rains 
are almost unknown in these regions, in fact, 
there are parts where people have never seen rain 
fall. A few towns and villages stand on the 
rivers that run down from the Andes and cross 
the dry coast to the sea, and when these rivers are 
high they are very wild and dangerous. Some of 
the valleys are watered by small irrigation canals, 
and where such irrigation exists, fine crops of 
sugar-cane, cotton, and rice are grown. Between 
the distant rivers are the vast, sandy deserts 
where nothing grows and where the sand dunes 
rise one after another, like huge ocean billows. 
In such places the heat is terrific, and there is 
absolutely no water. The ancient Mochica 
Indians, later the Chimus, and then the Incas, 
had irrigated many of the regions which are now 
empty deserts, and I saw the ruins of their towns, 
forts, canals, and burial grounds, which tell the 
sad story of the white man’s invasion. 

Contrary to the practice of most travellers in 
dry regions, I carried no water. For my own 

(i,2W) 199 14 


use I had a flask of brandy, and another filled 
with lemon juice mixed with a little salt. This 
concoction was very stimulating, but tasted so 
bad that I was never tempted to drink much at 
a time. The juice of canned fresh tomatoes is 
probably the best thirst quencher, but then this 
article is rarely found when it is needed. As for 
the horses, I calculated that the energy wasted 
by them in carrying water would be greater than 
the actual benefit derived from drinking it, so 
they only drank when we came to a river or some 
village. I believe my theory was sound ; with 
a light load we gained in speed, and avoided the 
horses getting sore, for water is the most uncom¬ 
fortable and clumsy load a pack animal can carry. 
Only on rare occasions did the animals seem to 
suffer from excessive thirst. 

After leaving Ancon we travelled over high 
sand dunes, and at eventide, in a fertile plain, 
we arrived at a big “hacienda” belonging to a 
Chinaman, whose hospitality I shall never forget. 
The next day’s trip being a long one we started 
long before daybreak. When I saddled up I 
thought my saddle-bags w r ere rather heavier than 
usual, and later I found out that my kind host 
had filled them with all sorts of good things 
during the night. 

The first rays of dawn found us among sand 
dunes where the horses sank deep into the soft 
sand that had been blown about by the wind 
until it appeared like ripples on a lake. The 
imposing silence was broken only by the rolling 
of the waves that sounded like the snoring of some 
sleeping giant. The wind almost immediately 
covered our tracks, and soon the terrible heat 


rose in waves, making breathing uncomfortable. 
In some places I could follow the coast, riding 
along the wet sand, where I made the horses go 
at a fast trot or even at a slow gallop, for I knew 
that this would be impossible once the sun rose 
higher; and time was precious. Sometimes a 
wave, bigger than the average, would wash higher 
up the beach, and the moving foam would 
frighten the horses. The vastness of the ocean, 
and the regular roaring of the waves on the 
seemingly endless and glittering beach, and the 
rolling sand dunes, gave the impression of eter¬ 
nity. Thousands of sea birds hovered silently 
over our heads, and crabs of all sizes went running 
with amazing swiftness towards their holes in 
the sand as we approached. Their manner of 
walking sideways was almost comical, and often, 
whilst I gave the horses a few minutes to breathe, 
I amused myself trying to catch some of them. 
Once or twice I threw a dead one as far as I 
could, then watched the others come to devour 
it; the fights that ensued were fierce and terrible, 
and I could not help comparing these fighting 
crabs with human beings. The wet sand was 
white with sea-gulls waiting for the waves to 
wash up something to eat. The birds would only 
rise when we had almost reached them, fly in a 
small circle around us, invariably towards sea, 
where the wind came from, and again settle behind 
us. Thousands of guanos (a kind of sea bird) were 
flying in regular clouds, dashing and splashing 
into the water after fish, for all the world re¬ 
sembling aeroplanes in the moment of crashing; 
and every now and again a curious seal would 
come to the surface and look at us as if wondering 


what we were doing there. The hot and very 
bright sunlight reflected off the wet sand and the 
waves, and the snow-white gulls circling silently 
around us made my eyes smart, obliging me to 
wear the green goggles I had used in the moun¬ 
tains. Journeys through such deserts were trying 
in the extreme. At first the body suffers, then 
everything physical becomes abstract. Later on 
the brain becomes dull and the thoughts mixed; 
one becomes indifferent about things, and then 
everything seems like a moving picture or a 
strange dream, and only the will to arrive and to 
keep awake is left. All thinking ceases, and when 
one finally arrives and falls to sleep, even the will 
temporarily leaves the body. 

. Dante's Inferno is a creation of stupendous 
imagination, but the Peruvian deserts axe real; 
very real. 

Southern Cross to Pole Star. 1933. 



(!Translated by Desmond Flower) 

Lake Titicaca 

On a dark and sinister night in heavy rain, I left 
the Peruvian port of Puno, where the elaborate 
cathedral stands among reeds in the muddy 
lagoon that forms the edge of Lake Titicaca. 
Bound for La Paz, I had embarked on the Inca, 
a steamer brought from England and dragged bit 
by bit to this altitude of twelve thousand five 
hundred feet. Through a storm belt a hundred 
miles wide we felt our way across this sheet of 
water, the highest in the world, this black sea of 
which the Spanish were so afraid they preferred 
to make a detour rather than cross it. 

Titicaca means “ tin stone,” and indeed the 
waters of this " suspended Mediterranean ” have 
just the thick immobility of liquid tin; it is part 
of the mountain, caught in the same vein, heavy 
with the same metal. A desert of water, between 
reddish banks, reflecting a deserted sky. 

Titicaca, an aerial lake so deep that it is useless 
to cast anchor; perched so high and flogged by 
such storms that the traveller suffers from sea- 


sickness and mountain sickness at the same time. 
On these dead astral waters I passed the most 
exultant hours of my journey, in a fit of hilarious 
well-being, a complete detachment. The Andes, 
covered with ice and cinders, appeared like 
glorious bodies, sublimated by abstinence and 
fasting. I watched the whitest clouds in the 
world and the horizon with its jagged saw-teeth 
—the Grand Cordillera—at which the tropical 
storms of the Amazon stop. I reflected that 
beyond that wall of pure steel I could, after a 
day’s descent, reach the virgin forest. It is of 
this contrast that the ineffable beauty of Titicaca 
is composed; this perfect, unpolluted mirror 
ignores the infections of the richer soils; from 
the heights of one of the oldest countries in the 
world, it towers above the alluvions and affluents 
of the Amazon, where dwell giant spiders, leprosy, 
mosquitoes, and, by rivers that flow rustling 
through lianas, those naked Indians armed with 
blow-pipes who are undoubtedly the last American 
savages. From this lake, says pre-Inca mythol¬ 
ogy, the sun rose for the first time as soon as the 
Creator had separated day from night. It is a 
lake of mystery and magic, in which geographers 
see nothing but a partition of waters between the 
Pacific and the Atlantic, but which tradition 
designates as the holy place of the birth of man¬ 
kind. A civilization about which nothing is 
known has left its gigantic bones, in the form of 
ruined temples, on the Bolivian shore of the lake, 
and perhaps its last survivors in the isolated Uros 
tribe, the despair of ethnographers, that lives in 
the valley of Desaguadero, a depository of rivers 
without egress. It was on one of the thirty-six 


islands that there appeared one day the ancestf 
of the Incas, with long ears. Was it perhaps on 
the island of the Sun, the island of Coati, or the 
island of the Moon that they shut up the virgins 
of the blood royal—in the islands of fasting and 
convents or on the almost separated promontory 
of Copacabana, with its dolmens, celebrated for 
the half-Christian, half-pagan ceremonies of its 
pilgrimages after the harvest in August, when 
the priests officiate on the same stones that once 
ran with the blood of the black llama ? I have 
crossed Titicaca four times, without taking my 
eyes from its heavy waters, where lie for ever the 
treasures which were flung into it at the first 
sound of Pizarro’s arquebuses. I have seen on it 
the loveliest sunset of my life, behind the black 
hills chiselled against a rusty sky shadowed with 
violet; a sombre line traced by the reeds, while 
far away the peaks stretched whiter than sugar. 
The sky, pierced by a flight of ducks, passed from 
gold to saffron, from saffron to rose, from rose to 
red, from red to that shade that they call liver; 
then everything glowed like cane alcohol when it 
catches fire. Night followed fast with tints of dove 
and steel grey, while a pile of apocalyptic cumuli 
wandered towards a background of blue drawn 
from the palette of Nattier, and so gave way to 
those fleecy clouds of pink that decorate the 
ceilings of Bavarian rococo. 

Next morning, in the stillness and light of a 
dawn delivered from the storm, who can imagine 
the happy exultation of this awakening of the 
Andes ? Clearness, a pulse of 130 .. . but every 
brisk movement reverberating'o n the brow like 
a gong-stroke. Across the celadon surface of the 


waters came to meet me those famous boats of 
straw, the balsas, steered by a fisherman astride, 
his feet trailing in the water, just as Pizarro saw 
them. Their rigging, their sails, square like the 
sail of a sampan—everything is straw, knit with 
the reeds of the lake. These gondolas with the 
exquisite line and wide flanks are edged with a 
thick pad that makes them unsinkable ; they are 
the only life of this immense sheet of water, so 
destitute of birds. 

To the right, through the lagoons of Tiahuanaco 
and Uinamarca our prow pushed aside the masses 
of reeds that leave a fishy smell; so we arrived at 
Guaqui, the frontier port. There I found Bolivian 
Indians clad in much -more glaring colours and 
more picturesque garments than the Indians of 
Peru; I was astonished by their Basque clothes 
and their pleated dresses retaining the lines 
of sixteenth-century Spain—jonquil, carnation, 
crimson and green of a startling violence beneath 
the rainbow ponchos. The women, the cholas, 
wear high-laced boots and tall felt hats, while 
the men have Phrygian bonnets, red and orange, 
with ear-pieces, like the Mongol cap of the Soviet 
infantry. A car took me into La Paz; it was 
Sunday—market day in each village through 
which we passed. Two or three hundred Indians 
were gathered in the square ; no noise, shouting, 
or altercation could be heard, only the confused 
murmuring of crowds, like a fair of phantoms. 
These Indians squat in the Oriental fashion, and 
their head appears through the hole cut in their 
red wool garment (the cross cut of man’s first 
attire, perpetuated in the ancient tunic, the 
Byzantine robe, the Arab gandourah, the priest’s 


chasuble, and the Indian poncho). The women, 
sitting in front of their slabs of rock salt and piles 
of frozen potatoes or bananas from the hot 
provinces, also sell pharmaceutic roots, bundles 
of coca, and big mushrooms, split with a hatchet, 
that are used for fuel. I learnt to judge these 
ladies' age by the number of garments that they 
wore, as one judges the age of a tree when it is 
felled by the concentric rings. 

These Indians have the immobile beauty of the 
Andes. With one look they would show us their 
contempt or, in turning away, their dislike. They 
puff out their chests, distended by the rarefied air. 
Their faces are the colour of dried blood, of war- 
tattooing, the colour of the convulsive monsters 
in primitives of the Fujiwara School, the colour 
of those congested persons who march round 
Etruscan vases or who appear as demons on 
Tibetan banners. 

Indian Air. 1933. 




No-Man’s-Land Five Fathoms Down 

Of all places in the world a coral reef is unques- 
tionally the newest and the strangest from which 
to draw satiety in colour. 

When I first began going down beneath tropical 
waters in my diving helmet, I found myself re¬ 
living the cave-man’s evolution. Whether the 
nearest coral was warm buff or primuline yellow 
was quite subservient to the. fact that it might 
shelter a lynx-eyed octopus, and until I learned to 
know better, the sight of an approaching shark 
sent messages to portions of my brain far other 
than the seat of appreciation of colour and beauty. 
It was necessary to get used to the strange costume, 
the complete submergence under water, and the 
excitement of a new world of unknown life. 

In the course of time I have learned to tramp 
about coral reefs, twenty to thirty feet under 
water, so unconcernedly that I can pay attention 
to particular, definite things. But after all my 
silly fears have been allayed, even now, with 
eyes overflowing with surfeit of colour, I am still 
almost inarticulate. We need a whole new 
vocabulary, new adjectives, adequately to describe 
the designs and colours of under sea. 



The very medium of water prevents any garish¬ 
ness, its pastel perspective compels most exquisite 
harmony of tints. Filtered through its softness, 
the harshest, most gaudy parrot-fish resolves into 
the delicacy of an old Chinese print, an age- 
mellowed tapestry. If one asks for modernist or 
futuristic designs, no opium dream can compare 
with a batfish or an angry octopus. The night 
overhead glories in a single moon; here whole 
schools of silvery moonfish rise, pass and set before 
us, while at our feet rest constellations of star-fish 
—crimson, sepia, and mauve. 

An unreal, fairy fish of greens and blues and 
purples appears in the distance, vanishes forever, 
yet the next moment is close to the glass of our 
helmet, peering in at us, mouthing soundless 
Ohs! We try to catch him, with the same 
success as snatching a sunbeam from the upper 
air. As he balances calmly, easily, in mid-water, 
we count the distinct colours on his scales, and 
stop at the fourteenth, for he has shifted slightly 
and every single tint and hue has altered. 

I walk toward a coral palace in the distance 
and work more magic. It is of the most delicately 
tinted lavender, picked out with patches of 
orange. I lean closer to get the exact shade, when 
every particle of colour vanishes—the feathery- 
headed worms whose tentacles covered the surface 
have withdrawn like lightning into their tubes, 
and I see that the orange was merely reflection, 
and that the coral is actually salmon-pink. My 
hand now brushes the surface, and between 
winks the thousands of minute polyps disappear 
within their stony home, revealing at last the 
beautiful clear ivory of the real coral. Bewildered 


after this three-ply palimpsest of colour, I look 
aside just in time to see a fish, in brilliant shining 
blue with three broad, vertical bands of brown, 
swim slowly into a fairy cavern. A few min utes 
later the identical fish emerges clad in brilliant 
yellow, thickly covered with black polka-dots. 

This spirit of astonishing happenings, of ex¬ 
quisite magic, of ineffable, colourful mystery is 
the theme of this watery world, and should be the 
chief motif in any writing or painting inspired or 
influenced by it. For while the roses and peonies 
of our gardens may look differently in light and 
in shade, they certainly, when alarmed, do not 
dash into the ground; and when we see a tortoise¬ 
shell tabby disappear into an alley, we can be 
reasonably sure that it will emerge practically the 
same colour. 

One artist, Zarh Pritchard, has brought to 
canvas, evanescence of hue, tenuousness of tint 
eminently satisfying to the memory of the stroller 
among coral reefs. This is probably because he 
paints under water, seated among his subjects. 
No aquarium tank can ever show the pastel film 
of aquatic perspective. No glass-bottomed boat 
ever conveys the mystery and beauty of this 
underworld of colour, for the same reason that an 
exhibit of pictures viewed from a gallery directly 
overhead can reveal nothing but frames and fore¬ 
shortened canvases. 

Time after time I have come out of the water 
with my mind crowded with colour Impressions— 
but never primary, harsh reds or blues or greens. 
Now, too, I realize the importance to an author 
of the ultimate connection between colours and 
their man-given names. Striving to fix and iden- 



tify remembered hues of a coral grove, I lose faith 
in my memory when, in my colour book, I find 
them listed as Russian blue or onion-skin pink. 
I know the exact shade of a certain feathery sea 
plume, but resent having to refer to it as zinc 
orange. Yet I am always pleased when I detect 
salmon, or pearl-grey, or ultramarine. How I wish 
that the inventors of the names of colours had been 
imbued with the simplicity and the imagination 
of those who, through all the years, have acted 
as little Adams to the flowers. 

Beneath Tropic Seas. 1928. 



On the Ship 

Liquid opal, the genuine antique, contemporary 
golf courses (twenty of them in Hawaii alone), 
the last word in cocktail bars and peach-pink 
sanitary fittings—the blurb writers promise to 
take you into the very heart of all these varie¬ 
gated delights. But what they fail to mention— 
and for me it seems one of the most significant 
things about the whole business—is the fact that 
a winter cruise takes you into the future as well. 
For when you board a giant hostess, you find 
yourself in the world of your grandchildren. The 
five hundred inhabitants of a cruising liner are 
in no sense a typical example of the contemporary 
population; no, they are a typical sample of the 
population as it will be, unless in the meantime 
we are all blown to pieces, fifty years hence. For 
the gay and charming front-pagers who go on 
winter cruises are, in the main, elderly people. 
Retired or merely tired business men ana their 
wives; widows with competences and ageing 
spinsters, trying to escape from winter and lone¬ 
liness in the well-advertised companionableness 
of deck life in the tropics; a sprinkling of the very 
old and infirm. The genuinely young are few; 



but, by way of compensation, the imitation youth¬ 
fulness of early middle age is plentiful. Adoles¬ 
cents of five-and-forty abound. Such, then, are 
the front-pagers. By no means, I repeat, a char 
acteristic example of the contemporary popu¬ 
lation. But, according to the prophecies of all 
the experts, a completely typical bunch from the 
gay nineteen-eighties. 

In 1980 the population of the Western world 
will probably be somewhat smaller than it is at 
present. It will also, which is more significant, 
be differently constituted. The birth-rate will 
have declined and the average age of death have 
risen. This means that there will be a considerable 
decrease in the numbers of children and young 
people, and a considerable increase in the numbers 
of the middle-aged and old. Little boys and girls 
will be relatively rare; but men, and especially 
women (since women tend to live longer than 
men), of sixty-five years old and upwards will be 
correspondingly more plentiful—as plentiful as 
they are on a cruising liner in 1933. 

So all aboard the giant hostess and Westward 
Ho! for a glamorous adventure into the future. 
But, frankly, I prefer the present. Little boys 
may be an intolerable nuisance; but when they 
are not there we regret them, we find ourselves 
homesick for their very intolerableness. After 
two or three weeks of a winter cruise (there are 
some, appalling thought! which last as much as 
four months), one would gladly exchange the 
widows, the bulging ex-stockbrokers, the small 
but thrifty young kittens of forty, for a wagon¬ 
load of even the most diabolic children, for a 
wilderness of even the silliest under-graduates. 



What a world our grandchildren will have to 
live in. Opinions, on the decks of a cruising liner, 
are unbelievably sound. It would seem impossible 
to find in any other area of equal size so large 
a number of right-thinking men and women. 
If gjmilar causes continue to result in similar 
effects, our grandchildren’s world will be a world 
of die-hards. As the young grow fewer and the 
old more numerous, the mistrust of all radical 
opinions will tend to increase, the desire for 
change to diminish. It will probably be safer 
than ours, the world of 1980 ; but it will certainly 
be less exciting. Go cruising and judge for your¬ 

Beyond the Mexique Bay . 1934. 




Cactus Country 

Not all the country that the cactus takes, belongs 
to it. That gipsy of the tribe, the prickly-pear, 
goes as far east and north on the great plains 
as the Spanish adventurer ever went, perhaps 
farther. It goes as a rarity into Old World 
gardens, runs wild and thrives wherever there are 
sand and sun to bring its particular virtues into 
play. For the virtue of all cacti is that they repre¬ 
sent the ultimate adaptations of vegetative life 
on its way up from its primordial home in the sea 
shallows, to the farthest, driest land. The prickly- 
pedis—Opuntia is their family name, and the 
connection is a large one—run to arid wastes as 
gipsies do to the wilds, not because there the 
environment is the only one which will tolerate 
them, but because it is the one in which all the 
cactus tribe find themselves fulfilled, triumphant. 

Here, in the country below the Mogollon Rim, 
the business of plants in making this a livable 
world, goes on all open to the light, not covered 
and confused by the multiplicity of its manifesta¬ 
tions, as in the lush, well-rained-on lands. Here, 
in this veritable corner of south-western Arizona, 
(4,29?) 2x5 15 


it has travelled the perfect round, from the filmwj 
protoplasmic cell, by all the paths of plant 
complexity, to the high simplicity of the great 
king cactus, the sahuaro. 

Going west by the Old Trails Road, you do not 
begin to find sahuaro until you are well down, 
toward the black hills of Tucson, and it is not at 
its best this side of the toad-like heap of volcanic 
trap which turns the river out of its course, ralWl 
Tummomoc. Here it rises to a height of twenty- 
five or thirty feet, erect, columnar, dull green, ari d 
deeply fluted, the outer ridges of the flutings set 
with rows of lateral spines that inclose it as in 
a delicate greyish web. Between the ridges the 
sahuaro has a texture like well-surfaced leather, 
giving back the light like spears, that, seen from 
a rapidly moving car, make a continuous vertical 
flicker in the landscape. Marching together 
against the rose-and-vermilion evening, they have 
a stately look, like the pillars of ruined temples. 

For the first hundred years or so the sahuaro 
preserves the outline of its virgin intention to be 
straight, but in the case of wounding, or perhaps 
in seasons of excess, it puts forth without calcula¬ 
tion immense columnar branches like the arms 
of candelabra, curving to bring their growing 
tips parallel to the axis of the main stem, which 
they reproduce as if from their own roots. 

The range of the sahuaro is restricted. Begin¬ 
ning with isolated specimens about the San Pedro 
River, it spreads south and west, but the true 
sahuaro forests are not reached until the gate 
of Papagueria is past, or the flats of Salt River. 
A small plantation of them has crossed the 
Colorado and established itself in California. 



South they pass into Sonora as far as Altar, and 
approach almost to the gulf shore, where they are 
replaced by the still more majestic sowesa. 

The leafless, compact outline of the sahuaro, its 
erect habit and indurated surfaces give it a secret 
look. Surmounting the crest of one of these 
denuded desert ranges, or marching up nearly 
vertical slopes without haste or stooping, or 
pushing its way imperturbably toward the sun 
from the midst of cat-claw and mesquite and palo- 
verde, it has the effect of being forever outside 
the community of desert life. Yet such is the 
succulence of its seedlings, that few of them would 
survive the first two or three seasons without the 
shelter of the spiny undergrowth. Once the 
recurved spines have spread and stiffened across 
the smooth, infolded intervals, the sahuaro is 
reasonably safe, even from the hard-mouthed 
cattle of the desert ranges. In very dry years, 
small rodents will gnaw into the flutings as far 
up as they can creep between the spines. High 
up out of reach of all marauders, the woodpecker 
drills his holes in the pulpy outer mass; but 
against these the sahuaro protects itself by sur¬ 
rounding its wounds with pockets of woody fiber 
woven to the shape of the woodpecker’s burrow. 

Indians of that country will often remove these 
pocket linings before the fiber has hardened, and 
make use of them for household containers, or 
you may find them kicking about the sand, hard 
as oak-knots, long after the sahuaro that -wove 
them has sloughed off its outer layer in decay. 
For the woodpecker never penetrates to the 
sahuaro core, enclosed as it is in a tube of woody, 
semi-detached ribs which remain standing long 


after the spongy masses that fill and surround it 
have completely desiccated, slowly fraying out 
outward from the top as the ribs part, until at 
last the Papago carries them away to roof his 
house or his family tomb. 

In the vast abras of southern Arizona, there is 
no woody growth capable of furnishing the wood¬ 
pecker with the cool, dark house in which he 
brings up his broods. In a single unbranched 
sahuaro near Casa Grande, this year, I counted 
seventeen woodpeckers’ holes, ranged up and 
down like the little openings of the cliff-dwellers’ 
caves. Frequently the vacated apartments of 
the sahuaro skyscraper will be occupied by the 
pygmy owl, who may have made a meal of the 
eggs or young birds before he established his own 
family there. Everywhere, from the sahuaro 
towers, little blue-headed hawks may be seen 
perching, or, from the vantage of their height, 
launching swift predatory flights. But when in 
the crotch of some three-hundred-year-old speci¬ 
men the fierce red-tail has made his nest, you will 
find all that neighbourhood vacant of bird life. 

It is not easy to take the life of a sahuaro, even 
when, just to see the tiny wavering flame run up 
the ridges, you set a match to the rows of oily 
spines. Even uprooted, as it may be in torrential 
seasonal rains, the prostrate column has un¬ 
measured powers of living on its stored waters, 
and making an upward turn of its growing tip. 
One such I found at the back of Indian Oasis, 
toward Topohua, which had turned and budded 
after what must have been several seasons of over¬ 

If the column is by any accident broken, lateral 


branches start from the wound and curve upward 
toward the sun. Successive dry years constrict 
its columnar girth, as successive wet ones swell 
it, tracing in the undulations of the vertical out¬ 
line a record of three or four centuries of rain. 
Around Tucson there must be sahuaros that 
could tell what sort of weather it was the year 
Father Kino came to the founding of San Xavier, 
and at Salt River. I made my siesta under one that 
could have given a better guess than any of our 
archaeologists at what became of the ancient 
civilizations of Casa Grande and Los Muertos. 

For I suppose the sahuaro harvest, and the 
ceremonial making of sahuaro wine to be the oldest 
food festival of the cactus country. In the ex¬ 
cavations of the buried cities of the Great-house 
culture, buried before the queen was horn whose 
jewels opened the portals of the West, they found 
little brown jars hermetically sealed with clay, 
after the fashion in which Papago housewives 
preserve sahuaro syrup at Cobabi and Quitova- 

From the month of the Cold Touching Mildly 
to the Inner Bone Month of the winter, the 
flutings of sahuaro stems are folded deep. With 
the first of the rains they begin to expand, until, 
if the season is propitious, the smooth leathery 
surfaces are tight as drums. In May, on the blunt 
crowns, on the quarter most exposed to the sun, 
buds appear like clusters of green figs, close- 
packed as if in a platter. About this time red¬ 
tailed hawks, in their shelterless nests in the tallest 
crotches, will be hatching their young, and the 
quail in pairs going house-hunting in and out of 
the garamboyas. Within a week or two the green 


fig-shaped buds open, one by one, in filmy white- 
rayed circles, deep-yellow hearted, the haunt of 
innumerable flies. By the latter part of June or 
July the delicate corollas are replaced by fig¬ 
shaped fruits that as they curl open when fullv 
ripe, revealing the full-seeded, crimson pulp, have 
the effect of a second vivid flowering. 

Just before the fruits burst, however, the Pima 
and Papago women turn out by villages to harvest 
them with long hooks made of a sahuaro rib and 
a cross-piece of acacia twig. Often to save labour, 
they will peel the fruit as they collect it; returning 
at night with their great jars and baskets over¬ 
flowing with the luscious juicy pulp. For this, 
and for all that I have written of the sahuaro 
festival in Papagueria, it is counted a crime to 
destroy a sahuaro. 

There is a singular charm of the sahuaro forest, 
a charm of elegance, as the wind, moving like 
royalty across the well-spaced intervals, receives 
the courtesies of ironwood and ocotilla and palo- 
verde. It begins with the upright next-of-blood, 
with a stately rocking of the tall pillars on their 
roots, and a soft ss-ss-ss of the wind along their 
spiny ridges. Suddenly the bright blossom-tips 
of the ocotilla take flight like flocks of scarlet 
birds, as the long wands bow and recover in the 
movement of the wind, and after an appreciable 
interval the thin-leaved ironwood rustles and 
wrestles with it, loth to let it go, until it drops with 
almost a sullen note to the stiff whisper of the palo- 

The Land of Journeys' Ending. 1925. 



Those United States 

Nobody but a true fool tries to cross the United 
States in a Ford car in the middle of winter. 
Fools in a minor degree do it fairly often in 
summer, but the fools who cross in winter are 
the princes of their kind. We are converted to 
this doctrine now; yet, with our folly and forty- 
six hundred miles safely in our past, we are rather 
proud of being princes of our kind. 

There are several highways across the North 
American continent, and this fact alone fools 
travellers. Highway is a word with an easy and 
comfortable sound to the ears of all but those 
who have already motored across the States. 
Actually the use of the word in this connection 
is an act of faith, and very beautiful. It means 
that some day Ford-errants, or their successors, 
will be able to run singing, without changing gears, 
on a road like a taut wire stretched from the 
sunrise to the sunset. Let us not dwell on the 
disappointing fact that, by that time, all the trans¬ 
continental fools will be inefficiently using aero¬ 
planes, and the only improvement will be that 
they will fall into air-pockets instead of bog-holes, 


and so end their folly and their difficulties once 
and for all. At present, however, the winter high¬ 
way is very inadequate as a way and can hardly be 
called high. The winter route must be the most 
southerly possible and, on the “ Old Spanish 
Trail,” the Continental Divide is only six thousand 
feet high. Mostly the trail burrows in swamps 
like a mud-turtle, ploughs its way humbly through 
deep unstable sands or explores the edges of dead 
inland seas and slow red rivers. 

These are the states through which we passed: 
N.Y., N.J., Pa., Del., Md., D.C., Va., N.C., 
S.C., Ga., Ala., Miss., La., Tex., N.M., Ariz., 
and Calif. I hope this is perfectly clear. 

Humility is the first thing expected of a Ford 
owner. It is the last thing the Ford owner feels. 
We have never before owned anything that ran 
on wheels but, now that we own a Ford called 
Stephanie, Pierce Arrows and Rolls Royces are 
nothing to us. Believe it or not—on a good 
road we could pass every known make of car 
except a Ford, and nothing but a Ford ever dared 
to pass us. 

Stephanie is the newest model; her voice is 
like that of the nightjar in midsummer; her 
profile is Grecian in its exquisite simplicity. She 
hails from Connecticut and bears her state name¬ 
plate under her chin and at the nape of her neck. 
Homesick natives of Connecticut State constantly 
come up to her and, patting her lovingly on her 
hot muzzle, say, “ Say, sister. I'm from Con- 
netticut too. What’s your hometown ? ” Then 
Stephanie regretfully, and with an acquired British 
accent, has to confess that she has naturalized as 
an alien. 



Although so young, Stephanie has seen a 
great deal of life. She started from New York. 
When she started, we scarcely knew one knob on 
her figure from another, and the uses of almost 
all knobs were hidden from us. So we hired a 
r pan called A1 to drive us down to Philadelphia, 
explaining the knob-psychology of Stephanie as 
he drove. Unfortunately A1 proved to have an 
important engagement which dragged him from 
us just as we approached the outlying suburbs of 
Philadelphia and threw him into the New York 
tr ain. We still had twenty miles to go. Stephanie 
sat smiling like a black devil where her faithless 
driver had left her. Since I had spent a longer 
time in the front seat than S. I now dubiously 
assumed the responsibility of driving. A Ford, 
we had been told, was fool-proof, and I was cer¬ 
tainly a fool within the meaning of the act. I 
knocked a few knobs about—Stephanie moved. 

. . . Proudly hopeful that we were so far in no 
way distinguishable from the hundred million (or 
so) other Ford owners of the United States, we 
drove to Broad Street. We did not know the 
way to Radnor—our destination—but Broad 
Street looked a purposeful—almost a fool-proof— 
street. Rain streaked the wind-shield ; all the 
outside world was a-dazzle and a-squirm seen 
through the glass. The darkness and the lights 
and the polished road were splintered in our 
confused sight. But still we moved success¬ 

Something was wrong. I had committed a 
crime. Stephanie had committed a crime. Every 
one in the world was shouting at us. Two police¬ 
men were running towards us gesturing insanely, 


each shouting something different out of one 
comer of his mouth. 

" Say, where was you raised ? ” 

“ Say, can't you see the sign ? ” 

“ Say, when you gwineter wake up ? ” 
Stephanie suddenly fainted and, as she did 
so, the position became dreadfully clear. In 
docile obedience to some nod, beck, or wreathed 
smile from a policeman, all the other automobiles 
going up and down Broad Street had stopped. 
Alone, Stephanie had proceeded innocently across 
an oasis of forbidden ground and now had fainted 
upon a tram-line, so that trams from two direc¬ 
tions were blocked. Every one in the world 
would be late for dinner. Nothing would move 
again. The block by now would be miles long. 
Back, way back, in Baltimore, in Washington, in 
San Francisco, in Honolulu . . . people would 
be held up, cursing Stephanie. The business of 
the United States would be at a standstill. There 
would be international complications—another 
Great War. . . . 

“ Well say, what’s eating you ? Step on her, 
can’t you ? ” 

" What do I step on, for God’s sake ? ” 

I stepped on everything. I tore everything 
from its socket except the hand-brake, which I left 
gripping Stephanie's vitals. Yet Stephanie awoke 
to the fact that she was fool-proof. She moved 
in a series of appalling spasms with a loud grinding 
noise. We were safe in a side street before she 
fainted again. Collecting our fluttering wits 
sufficiently to take off the brake at last, we rolled 
for two hours about the wet trackless wastes of 
suburban Philadelphia, trying to find a way to 


Radnor without crossing cruel Broad Street again 
By a miracle we fell over Radnor in the dark. . . . 

We know knobs better now. After that 
Stephanie took the matter into her own hands and 
we could only sit in turns at her steering-wheel 
and admire her spirit. She loved to leap ahead 
at thirty or forty miles an hour, and once, passing 
a stout, road-filling Cadillac, she skidded in soft 
gravel and bounded from the road into the virgin 
forests of Maryland. Only a very solid object 
can stop a highly-strung car like Stephanie when 
her gasolene is up. In this case it was the trunk 
of a fallen tree combined with the frenzied en¬ 
treaties of her driver that reminded her of her 
duty. She sustained a cracked wind-shield and 
a sprained head-light and had to put herself into 
the hands of a Ford surgeon. 

Great minds, it is said—and said far too often 
—think alike, and Stephanie found herself con¬ 
tinually arriving in the same cities as Marechal 
Foch, who was at that time touring the States, 
receiving the freedom of cities he probably in¬ 
tended never to visit again, and accepting swords 
of honour which it is hoped the League of Nations 
will never allow him to use. He had everything 
America could give him—except a Ford. We 
saw him often, making shift with a Pierce Arrow, 
whistling up excited main streets, pressed in with 
a full measure of compressed military minions. 
I admit we never managed to pass him—but then 
in the South no one ever passes any one. Every 
one is stuck in a bog all the time. 

Upon the roads of North and South Carolina 
and of Georgia it is at least an aesthetic pleasure 
to get bogged. The roads are the only vivid 


things in the South. The colour of gumbo is 
a dazzling rust, sometimes a bright vermilion. 
Gumbo is of a glue-like consistency, most useful 
in its proper place—no doubt it would mend 
china or weld iron or add body to chewing-gum ; 
as the foundation of a highway, however, it would 
disconcert a stronger character than Stephanie. 
There are always two ruts on a gumbo road. 
They are two feet deep or more, yet a hardy Ford 
can flounder along them at a spanking three miles 
an hour, until it meets another Ford floundering 
along in the opposite direction on the same pair 
of ruts. Every one then alights from both Fords 
and sinks irritably into knee-high gumbo. The 
drivers argue for a while and then he of the 
strongest character blithely helps the more pliable 
party to heave the latter’s Fordinto the bottomless 
outer gumbo. Then there is weeping and gnash¬ 
ing of teeth until a cynical passing mule consents 
—for a consideration—to haul the unfortunate 
out. There is none of that romantic brotherhood- 
of-the-road stuff in the Carolinas. 

There are tears in the air of that country in 
the winter, in spite of the persistent laughter of 
the negroes. The thin woods brood like rain- 
clouds ; the cotton-fields are desolate and dripping, 
and untidy tufts of dirty white cotton still cling 
to the plants. Cotton was an unappreciated crop 
that year, and on all the waste places of the 
plantations were great bales of unsold cotton 
rotting in the rain. One saw cardinal birds some¬ 
times—beads of flying fire—but they seemed to 
have no song. The only cheerful voices were 
those of the negroes; whole villages of negroes, it 
seemed, had nothing to do but laugh in cracked 


foolish voices. They laughed when they fell off 
their mules or when they went to church or when 
their buggies had to capsize in the ditches to 
make room for Stephanie or when they sold us 
new-laid eggs or asked us to what church we 
were affiliated or gave us wrong directions with 
expansive gestures. 

Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are swamp 
states and all their trees are bearded with Spanish 
moss. To Southerners trees so festooned are, 
I suppose, as genial and domestic as ivied oaks 
are to us. But I think that this grisly grey lichen 
is one of the most mean and furtive-looking in¬ 
ventions of nature. My heart sinks now when I 
remember it; it seems to me the banner of a 
weeping land. That is the South that stays in 
my mind; New Orleans did not dispel the im¬ 
pression, nor brisk Atlanta, nor scholastic Athens 
high on a sunny hill. Even the memory of a 
two days’ wait for the Mobile ferry at Daphne, 
a sunny windy village with a generous and radi¬ 
antly humble little inn under great live-oak trees, 
a place with a silver beach sloping to the jade- 
grey Gulf of Mexico at its feet—remains an 
isolated memory. 

The Little World. 1925. 



Canada West 

Vastness— that is the word. That is the Open 
Sesame to any impression of this land, and to 
simplify the task of conveying it a bisectional 
treatment at once suggests itself. The Prairie 
Provinces, and other vast tracts northward, to 
the Rocky Mountains; the Rocky Mountains to 
the Pacific Coast: that will be the order of our 

And first it is necessary to go back some way; 
not so deeply as to inflict a geological or anti¬ 
quarian treatise on readers, but the better to 
convey that sense of vastness essential to feeling 
the land as its peoples feel it. 

At the quarries near Tyndal, in Manitoba, 
geologists have gone down like divers, where 
there is no sea now, and brought up for our 
enlightenment and wonder rocks scrawled upon 
with arabesque of seaweed and stamped with 
ammonites and other ancient shells as leaves are 
pressed between the pages of an old book. And 
away at the other end of this tremendous land, 
in a region of the kind that the early French 
voyageurs called mauvaises terns, much like the 


3ad Lands of Dakota, antiquarians have found 
negalosaurus and plesiosaurus, and have chiselled 
mt a monstrous thing that has the neck of a 
,nake and a crocodile’s head, the flying pterodactyl. 
These creatures they have found on either side 
>f a stretch of the Red Deer River, a stream much 
larrower now than it was five million years ago. 
The history of the land since then until more or 
ess recent years has been but of slow geological 
ihange, and. of the seasons, the scorching heat of 
iummer, the stinging flurry of the dry winter 

Vastness—vastness, from the flat plains of what 
s now Manitoba to that surge of rocks that the 
Indians called " the backbone of the world,” and 
ve have named the Rocky Mountains. After the 
seaweed and the pterodactyls had been all laid 
iway in sand and pressed down as in the leaves of 
i book, there was grass ; and antelope herds and 
oison (commonly called buffalo) herds wandered 
wer that vastness. We know little—next to 
nothing—of the early history of men there. 
But two stories of their migrations (old stories, 
nr recent stories, according to how one considers 
time) survive in their legends and are ratified 

Long ago a band of the great Dakota (or Sioux) 
nation, called Assiniboines, that is to say, Stone 
Sioux, because of their custom of cooking their 
food with hot stones, left the centres of their tribe, 
somewhere about where Minnesota and Dakota 
now are—one dim tradition says because of a feud 
arising out of the faithlessness of a Dakota Helen— 
and journeyed northward to discover what lay 
across that flat immensity. Thus we have the 


Assiniboine River, to which these Assiniboines 
came on that trek. 

When I first went west as a boy that big paral¬ 
lelogram that is now South Saskatchewan was 
called Assiniboia. On the maps of the very early 
travellers you may see the location of these 
Indians marked, to the best of their hearing, by 
the words ‘' Assini poets. ’ ’ In their own way these 
copper-hued explorers were poets ! The old rest¬ 
lessness persisted, urging some of them, later, 
westward along the banks of the river to which 
they had come. 

Any one who has seen the indigo blur of the 
Rockies along the western prairie’s edge will 
realize how, raising that in the immensity, these 
Assiniboines kept on. From north to south the 
mountains extend, in summer time as a thickening 
of the base of the sky, as though its colour had 
run down and solidified there. And over them, 
from north to south, are spectacular sunsets, 
the white cloud mountains above the ones of stone 
turning gold, turning pink, then lit with hues as 
of calamitous fire and smoke before the final 
crumbling into night. In the spring and late 
autumn and winter the Rockies are a ragged white 
selvedge of the sky. But it was in summer that 
the Assiniboines saw them first. 

The Blackfeet Indians, into whose territory they 
had then come, as it happened were away from 
their centre en masse on a great buffalo hunt, and 
so without let or hindrance the Assiniboines con¬ 
tinued on their way. They entered into the pass 
through which the Canadian Pacific Railway now 
mns . They saw. They admired. But when at 
last they turned back they found the Blackfeet, 


10 had returned to their central camps, about 
lere the city of Calgary now stands, inquiring 
to the trail that they had left. 

In the battle that ensued the Assiniboines had 
fall back westwards. One or two subsequent 
tempts they made to pass eastward, but always 
ie Blackfeet were ready for them. Yet such was 
ie valour of this little band that the Blackfeet 
irst not pursue them among the natural fortresses 
: the foothills. Then philosophically the Assini- 
lines considered that it was a great and goodly 
,nd to which they had come, and there they are 
> this day—Stony Indians, which is merely the 
nglicizing of Assiniboine, a clan of the great 
akota (or Lacota) nation. So one of their 
gends tells us, and their speech and certain 
tanners and customs verify that legend. 

Of another great flitting across these vast lands, 
lis time from north to south, we learn similarly, 
ip toward the Arctic Circle there was internecine 
trife in a tribe of the Athapascan stock. So 
itter and bloody it was that at last the old men 
f the tribe pled for a truce and a pow-wow. They 
arangued the people on the folly of it. The result 
ras a decision to draw lots. The faction that lost 
rould then migrate away so many moons (months 
s we say) in any direction they saw fit. That 
[rawing of lots would, no doubt, be done by the 
Id method of a long and a short stick held 
>etween closed palms. 

In the history of the west along the foothills 
ast of the Rocky Mountains one comes across 
eferences to this exodus. Down through that 
fastness, out of the Land of Little Sticks (the 
lorth woods), across the rolling western prairie, 
aw?) 231 16 


always with the Rockies to right of them, blue 
with silver veins of snow, and high cliffs morning 
after morning mirroring the dawn, these people 
moved, the ordained moons. Bits of that old trail 
trodden down by these moccasined feet, and by 
the dogs that hauled the travois, we travel on now 
in our motor cars. It passed close to Calgary. It 
continued to where the city of Helena is, in Mon¬ 
tana. What old-timers still speak of as “ the old 
MacLeod trail ” their predecessors referred to as 
" the old north trail.” And down in Arizona 
to-day are the Apaches and the Navajoes, speak¬ 
ing a dialect of the Athapascan tongue. 

These are the only two movements of aboriginal 
men, in that vastness, of which we know. 

When the Company of Adventurers of England 
trading into Hudson Bay began their adventur¬ 
ing, what struck them first, as it must strike any 
sensitive mind to-day, even when the antelope and 
the buffalo are gone and you look upon wheat 
from horizon to horizon, was the vastness, the 
immensity of the territories into which they 
adventured. Their trading posts were dotted 
from Hudson Bay itself down into Astoria, 
which is now Washington State. News of the 
doings in old Europe reached their distant outposts 
two years after their occurrence. The pelts from 
Astoria passed up the Arrow Lakes to the great 
bend of the Columbia, thence up Canoe River, 
then were portaged, carried through the moun¬ 
tains to the prairies, shipped down Saskatchewan 
to Winnipeg, which was then Fort Garry, and 
thence continued by river, lake, and portage, 
to Montreal. 

Immensity. Vastness. During the ensuing 


ears many explorers journeyed through these 
mds, cheerfully planning where they would 
/inter this year, where they would winter next 
-ear: Samuel Hearne, Sir John Franklin, Sir 
Alexander Mackenzie, David Thompson, Alex- 
.nder Henry, Pierre Gaultier de La Verendrye, 
he Frobishers, Pierre Esprit Radisson, and the 
est. In the annals of this land these names seem 
o come out of long and long ago. And yet, 
:onsidering its antiquity (the arabesques of sea- 
veed on the rocks at Tyndal, the pterodactyls by 
he Red Deer River), it is only the other day they 
massed this way. The Hudson’s Bay Company 
lad its rivals in the North-West Fur Company ; 
:he firm of Revillon Frferes had not been imagined. 

Even to-day, travelling through the land by 
:rain, alighting nowhere, but just watching the 
infolding, hour after hour, of space and space 
igain, the impression persists of a vast land. 
There are those who, looking out of the car 
windows, feel to the marrow of their bones that 
they could never live there. That billiard-board 
under the arch of sky terrifies them. Yet to be 
out and about in it is a very different matter. 

The early fur-traders, of course, on coming out, 
were wont to spread reports that it was a howling 
wilderness, and to asseverate they would not live 
there unless they had to. To prevent an influx 
of population they centralized upon the harsher 
aspects. They told of blizzards in winter cutting 
across the flat prairie, blizzards that blinded a 
man so that he could not see his camp were it no 
more than a hundred yards away. They told—- 
though perhaps this sounded, to some ears, like 
a long-bow yam—of how in the afternoons of 


blazing hot summer days there would come over 
the world’s horizon, as it were over the flat edge 
of the sea, a little cloud no larger than a man’s 
hand, but of a warning colour, discharging, after 
the terrific heat, hailstones as large as hazel-nuts ; 
yes, as large as bantams’ eggs. They did not tell 
of the lure of these distances, of the prairie flowers, 
of the songs of birds, of the great migrations of 
the ducks and geese, so cloud-like that, passing 
under the sun, they sent shadows over the land. 
And if to praise the country had been their object 
instead of to disparage it, they would not, perhaps, 
have even tried to tell of one thing that called 
them back: the cry of a loon across the misted 
lakes at morning. For what is the call of a bird 
to lure a man ! 

Yet others besides the servants of that Com¬ 
pany of Adventurers began to arrive here, and 
with the intention of remaining. These, to state 
the case mildly, were not welcomed. In the books 
of history you may read, for example, of the treat¬ 
ment accorded by the fur-traders to the Scots 
agricultural settlers who came into the land under 
the auspices of Lord Selkirk. The aim of this 
book is not, however, that of a historical work. 
No more of early history need be told here than 
is necessary for a realization of the vastness of 
this land. 

And here is transition period come definitely. 
From then till to-day it has always been transition 
period in that wide north-west. Leave it for ten 
years—yes, five—and return, and you will see. 
It is as if the land had its destiny and men are 
but the unwitting servitors of that. The fur- 
traders had no desire, touching the land, save to 


;onserve it as wilderness; intruders, but hardly 
to be called innovators, introducing to its in¬ 
habitants a necklace of beads for one of shells, a 
flintlock rifle in place of bow and arrows, no 
more. But the first slit made by a plough in one 
small corner of the pastures of the buffalo and 
grassy coverts of the prairie chicken—that was 
an ominous gash indeed. There were those who 
realized that—or, at least, that it might be. 

Many of the French voyageurs who rowed the 
York boats and paddled the birch-bark canoes 
taking in the “ trade,” taking out the furs, for 
the Hudson’s Bay Company, had married Indian 
women. There were settlements, thus, of French 
half-breeds. And now the dread of an influx of 
population, that had troubled the factors of the 
Hudson’s Bay Company earlier, affected these. 
Their first rebellion broke out in 1869, on the 
transference to the Crown of the Hudson’s Bay 
Company's domain. The second occurred in 1885. 
Many of their grievances were utterly valid, and 
leading members of the North-West Mounted 
Police realized that, and that the Government’s 
attitude to them was despotic. A miserable 

There are many who can recall, very clearly, 
incidents of that second Riel rebellion. To hear 
them talk is to realize how swiftly, the dam once 
broken, the flood poured through. In their stories 
we hear a strange sound across that immensity, 
the scream of the ungreased wooden wheels of the 
old Red River carts. It carried for miles. Where 
the transport (apart from the winter’s dog-team 
and sled) was not by rivers in canoes and York 
boats, it was in brigades of these primitive con- 


veyances. Day in, day out, that shrill scream 
accompanied their long journeys, and large 
brigades could be heard before they came over the 

But the Riel rebellions have been written of 
frequently now, not only in volumes, but in 
reminiscitory articles in such Canadian journals 
as MacLean’s Magazine, and in the annual of the 
North-West Mounted Police, Scarlet and Gold. 
It was chiefly the plains Crees and Assiniboines 
that the half-breeds won over as allies. What 
Blackfeet or Sioux came to their aid were with 
them as freelances, not as tribes at war. Many a 
story you can hear, from those who lived then, of 
savage terrorism and cruelty, many a story too 
of savage tolerance for the sake of some old service 
rendered—the Indian being built like that and 
the quality active unless when he has had his fill 
of white man’s fire-water. 

It was in the year of the completion of the trans¬ 
continental railway by the insertion of the link 
through the north-shore woods (of Superior, that 
is) and through the Lake of the Woods and Rainy 
River country, that the second Riel rebellion broke 
out. In the building of that link the engineers, 
in several places, came across traces of the military 
road, overgrown by a tangling luxuriance of scrub, 
that Wolseley's engineers had sweated upon so 
short a time before for the passage of troops to¬ 
ward the quelling of the first rebellion. Willow- 
herb and wild berry-bushes, even then, made that 
an old story. Settlers for Western Canada from 
Eastern Canada, prior to the insertion of that link, 
passed into the North-West Territories through 
the United States of America. 



A neighbour of mine who would be grieved, 
or amused perhaps, if one were to call him old— 
though he might admit himself as at the beginning 
of elderly—has told me of his entrance by Chicago, 
where he bought bullocks and a wagon (bullocks 
and a wagon in Chicago!) for the northward 
saunter to take up a homestead. Odd what a 
radiance, in retrospect, enfolds days that, before 
memory had them to winnow, were arduous and 
even desperate. Yet there was a thrill of escape, 
too,, which atoned for the hardships. And a 
strange necessity, a compulsion beyond full ex¬ 
planation, urged such men. 

Another way of entering the country in those 
days that seem so distant because of the celerity of 
change, was from Fort Benton on the Missouri. 
River steamers from as far as Saint Louis churned 
up the Mississippi, took a turning to the left (the 
Missouri) and steamed on. Sometimes they stuck 
upon sand-bars of that silty river, and during 
these years of unrest among the buffalo-hunting 
copper - skinned nomads, who were adread of 
what the end of white invasion might mean, a 
steamboat with the ill-luck to go aground upon a 
sand-bar was sometimes a target for shots from 
Indians on the bluffs on either side. Necessity 
is the mother of invention. What may best be 
described as stilts were affixed to the hulls of these 
vessels, one on each side, the lower end of each 
pointing forward. From the upper ends cables 
were rigged to a capstan or winch. Boats coming 
up too early in the spring, before the river was 
in freshet, going on a sand-bar simply kept nosing 
into it. At the same time the capstan began to 
revolve. The butt-ends of the stilts thrust down 


as, slowly, the upper ends were dragged ahead. 
A splash, a swirl, a churning of sand, a whoop from 
the pilot—the steamer was over the bar and deep¬ 
breathing upon her way. That’s how many came 
to Canada’s Far West then, disembarking at old 
Fort Benton, and crossing the prairies (rolling 
prairies there in many places) northward, in the 
slow bullock - drawn wagons. Or perhaps they 
would buy horses, at five dolars a head or so, from 
Indians there, and ride north upon their way, 
keeping guard at night lest other Indians, seeing 
these horses, should attempt to stampede them. 

Those were the days of vastness without railway 
or barbed wire. The North-West Mounted Police 
(in 1904 Royal North-West Mounted Police and 
more recently merged and lost in the Royal 
Canadian Mounted Police), a seemingly pitiably 
small force to patrol so wide a region, kept order 
among white and red, and established a tradition 
that was to last for years, a tradition of a certain 
sort of heroism. I say a certain sort because of 
many well - authenticated stories of the sheer 
effrontery, the nerve of its examples. The cattle 
industry, that had for years flourished on the 
grassy lands from Texas to Montana, had a 
northerly extension. From the foothills of Alberta 
to far down the Assiniboine River the buffalo 
range became cattle country. The buffalo herds 
had almost gone, though the antelopes still 
scurried on their slender shanks before the 

I was talking recently to one of these old cattle¬ 
men. _ He is one who cannot cordially accept 
what is called progress. His gaze is wistfully upon 
the past. He told me of the great spring round-up 


that began near Calgary, and continued far down 
into Montana. The object of it was to cut out 
from the wandering herds the steers of each in¬ 
dividual ranch, and drive them home again. He 
told me all about the Stock Association of those 
days, of the method of electing round-up foremen 
(recalling, in an aside, one who, though a full- 
blood Blackfoot Indian, was once unanimously 
chosen by his white fellows); how, returning to 
the ranch near Calgary, there was only time for 
a little rest before the fall round-up—or the beef 
round-up. Its object was the shipment of the 
steers eastward. And never a strand of barbed 
wire from Calgary to the Yellowstone. 

Incidents of those old days have their memorials 
in place-names, such as Medicine Hat and Pincher 
Creek. And names on the prairies, such as Kipps, 
not deflecting the average traveller of to-day for 
one moment from his survey of the menu-card, 
give a pinch to the hearts of old-timers. The 
steward is kept waiting, the menu-card forgotten, 
while they look out at seemingly nothing, or next 
to nothing, a little red-painted house with a 
name (of import for them) in white upon its gable, 
a section-gang standing by till the train has 
passed, a roll of coulee and a white cloud frothing 
up beyond. 

The locomotive whistle hooted across the ex¬ 
panses, over the sigh of wind in the grass or 
through the peppering of the winter snow; and 
the screaming of the ungreased wooden wheels 
of the old Red River carts was dying away, soon 
to be gone, only a memory. 

There is something ironic in the fact that those 
who are driven by some strange urge, and as it 


were a heady impatience with sophistication, to 
the frontiers and the sparsely peopled parts of 
the earth, loving elbow-room, prepare a way for 
those who are miserable unless they can rub 
shoulders with their kind. With the completion 
of the trans-continental railway, demanded by the 
early settlers for the shipment of their produce, 
there arrived in greater numbers young men of 
that restless spirit. There was, so far, only the 
one railway track, a very thin thread, close to the 
base of that vast land. These young men dis¬ 
embarked from the train on station platforms the 
planks of which still smelt new from the sawmills, 
to the rear side of which stood high-saddled horses 
with deceptively drooping heads and apparently 
no more vigour than to swish flies from their 
haunches with hock-long tails ; and ramshackle¬ 
looking conveyances of the kind called buck- 
board and democrat, from homes perhaps invisible 
over the expanse. They were at least in at the 
death, or the birth, as you please. 

American farmers from Kansas, or from Illinois 
and Ohio, which had become too greatly popu¬ 
lated for them, were coming in overland in the 
ancient way, with canvas-covered wagons for a 
moving home, their sons, restless as they, and 
fired by the stories of earlier migrations told by 
their fathers, driving the herds of cattle and 
horses on either side. The old phrases still 
endured as living speech. There was still that 
omnipresent sense of vastness, intoxicating. 
They told you how they had been “ out of sight 
of land.” It was as if to them, from these great 
leagues, the water had just receded and might 
again flow, as though across a vaster Solway sands 


on the transit of which they adventured. The 
phrase was not extravagant. It conveyed the 
impression of that tardy crawl day by day with 
only the sigh of wind in the bunch-grass for com¬ 
pany like the lapping of a wave. And then over the 
horizon, one day, there would be a blue cloud, a 
low blue cloud, that darkened and eventually 
became hills — Cypress Hills perhaps. Their 
covered wagons they called prairie schooners. 
The first of those who came in on the new railway 
saw all that. 

The locomotives that drew their trains made 
man y peculiar sounds. You could tell, sitting in 
the coaches, what was on the track ahead by 
listening to these sounds. Sometimes the whistle 
would emit a series of short blasts, the nearest 
approach of a whistle to the barking of a dog. 
That would indicate sheep' upon the track. 
Sometimes there would be prolonged roars in an 
attempt to startle steers away from between the 
metals. Sometimes there would be a hissing of 
steam, and if you walked on to a car-platform and, 
taking hold, craned out a little way, you would 
see the antelopes scurry. A fire-guard was 
ploughed on either side of the track. I forget 
how many ploughs were lashed together and how 
many horses drew them. But they made an 
impressive team for one man on his perch to 
handle. From Winnipeg to Calgary was that 
broad fire-guard on either side of the track so that 
sparks from the engines would not set fire to the 

Transition period, always transition period. 
The buffalo had gone and his bones were numbered. 
The Indians, who had lived on him—had made 


their tepees from his hide, their needles from his 
bones, glue from his hoofs—were out on the great 
p lains shovelling up his osseous remains into 
wagons, driving them into Calgary, Medicine Hat, 
Swift Current, Indian Head, for sale to middlemen 
who shipped them away east. “ Imperious Csesar 
dead, and turned to clay, might stop a hole to 
keep the wind away.” That noble-looking beast, 
the buffalo, became fertilizer, I suppose, in eastern 

Canada West. 1930. 




Downtown New York 

I started off from South Ferry one night upon 
a zigzag walk. Sleepless tramps were huddled in 
the seats in Battery Park ; others were lying on 
the grass, flat and dazed as if they had fallen from 
balloons. There were hoots and howls from across 
the river, red lights, and green lights, the hum- 
grum of machinery, and the strange electric-light 
cascade of moving elevated trains. ’Twas one by 
the clock. Syria slept. Greece slept. 

I walked by Front Street to Moore Street, to 
Water Street, to Broad, to Pearl, to Coenties Slip, 
to Stone, to Mill Lane, to South William Street, 
to Broad again, past a blank empty lighted tele¬ 
graph office, to Exchange Place, to New Street, to 
Wall Street. Thus I arrived at the financial anvil 
of the world. But all was still, no hammering, no 
bellows blowing, no flying sparks. Yellow stars 
looked down on the deserted Exchange. But I 
saw what appeared to be some Pagan temple, a 
stark altar of human sacrifice, and it proved to be 
a famous Christian church, none other than Holy 
Tr ini ty on Broadway, and as I stood by the 
strange little graveyard the church clock struck 


half-past one. The little white headstones looked 
like the dead popping up from the tomb. There 
was heard the resounding hoot of a steamer on 
the river—yea, the last trump. Fast cars scooted 
along wet empty Broadway as if fleeing the wrath 
to come—and all were going up town. 

Then I went on by Little Thames Street, and 
felt for a moment as if I were in part of the City 
of London. It also is deserted in the regions of 
Capel Court at that hour of the night. There are 
no night-shifts in stockbroking. You do not see 
a relief of stenographers being marched up Wall 
Street by a Managing Clerk ; the stenographer’s 
relief is prancing in the White Friars and Tango- 

I was in Cedar Street and Greenwich Street, 
walking under the “ El ” like a rat, and came to 
Liberty Street—0 Liberty, most empty was thy 
street—and to Washington above that sleeping 
Syria and sleeping Greece, and so, going by Cort¬ 
land Street, I came to West Street and its great 
market. It was two o’clock, and New York here 
was very much alive. 

There were horse-wagons and motor-wagons, 
cases and baskets of vegetables and fruit, and 
porters innumerable hurrying hither and thither 
with gleaming white-wood boxes on their shoul¬ 
ders. I emerged from the dead city, where never 
a blade of grass twinkles before square toes, and 
came into a fairyland of cucumbers and com, 
cabbages and melons, and Malaga grapes. Re¬ 
freshing fruit odours invaded the nostrils. 

Heaps of small black grapes looked in the dim 
light like exaggerated caviare. I kicked a peach 
as I walked along. What largesse in the night, 



peaches are like stones in the roadway! They 
tumbled from wooden troughs and buckets un¬ 
covered and overfilled. There were South Moun¬ 
tain oranges and California lemons. There were 
crates of greens stacked higher than men. There 
were cabinets of blackberries and raspberries. 
The nose whispered to the heart “ Raspberries, 
raspberries ” as it tasted the air. Coloured porters 
with perspiring gleaming faces shouldered boxes 
of green varnish-surfaced peppers along narrow 
alleyways between piles of other boxes. Carrots 
peeped out of their ventilated crates like brown 
ribbons. Side streets were blocked with potatoes 
and yams. Activity, activity, activity — and 
quietude. The workers do not help themselves 
along with foul expletives and abuse as in London. 
They seem to be conserving their energy, or 
imitating the electric lamps which do their job 
and say nothing about it. But it is a big market, 
bigger than Covent Garden in London, and I 
reflected that New Yorkers eat more fruit and 
vegetables than we do. There is more for them 
to eat. Their reserves are greater. 

The quayside beyond the market is long and 
spacious and empty. The freer air seems to be 
minus something—is it the mental ozone of New 
York ? West Street is a long backyard. It has 
no mechanical turnings on the left. If you wish 
to take a turning on the left, the way of the heart, 
you must take a ship. There are ships in the 
wharves still as birds dozing head on wing in a 
covert at night. Not a rustle nor a whisper comes 
from the giant Cunarder. West Street is the 
landing-stage of the Atlantic ferry. You stand 
on West Street and you think Southampton. 


You stand in West Street and you think Havana, 
San Juan, Cristobal, Panama, Valparaiso. You 
stand on West Street and think Cherbourg, 
Naples, the Piraeus. But now no one is thinking 
anything. The gangways may be down, but no 
one is on them. Eastward New York’s luminosity 
lies in layers like masonry of light and darkness 
built from the rocks to the night-sky. Westward 
lies the beautiful river flowing away to the calm 
ocean. And on the wide roadway of the quay 
laden lorries rush and crash bearing produce to 
the market or away. 

I sought a turning on the left and did not find 
one till 14th Street. It was a lonely walk. A 
drunken man sitting on a bit of paving addressed 
me vaguely. He was looking at the heavens with 
lack-lustre eye. 

“ There’s only one star left. How far’s that 
from here ? ” he queried. 

I passed an empty “ Goulash Kitchen,” passed 
standing freight cars, passed the embarkation for 
Tampa and Mobile, passed the Boston and Provi¬ 
dence pier, passed the R.M.S.P., passed the 
Hoboken Ferry and entered the Gansevoort 
market stirring feebly. A black-and-white cat 
was squatting in the roadway fastidiously eating 

My turning to the left proved to be the virtual 
one of Eleventh Avenue where it starts North near 
West 14th Street, and there, like a derelict trolley- 
car left stranded on the ooze after the subsidence 
of a flood, was a windowed shed with the explicit 
word lunch printed on it. This was kept by a 
lonely Greek. 

“ Where do you come from ? ” I asked, perched 


on my revolving stool at the counter and munch¬ 
ing pie. 

" Island,” he answered. 

“ What ? From Ireland ? You don’t look it.” 

" No. Island. Crete. Greek, yes.” 

“ Fine country.” 

" No. Some nations go up. Some nations go 
down. The great Alexander thousand year ago 
take whole world. Then Venetians come. Be¬ 
fore Jesus. Romans. Yes, the French. Napo¬ 
leon. Germans. Now English, I guess.” 

“Not Americans ? ” 

“No, English now. But in two hundred year 
maybe England go down. Other nation rise up.” 

“ How d’ye like New York ? ” 

" Not like it. Bad place here. Kill you for a 
dime. Drinks bad poison. Good drink cost big 
money. Not like New York.’ 

A friend from the island of Rhodes rolled in for 
his morning coffee on his way to work at the 
National Biscuit Factory. “ Rhodes no good. 
Italians there. They turn out Greeks. New York 
fine. Plenty money. Rodos bad.” 

I said Good-morning and Good-bye, and walked 
out on to 14th Street, turned into Tenth Avenue 
and then into West 15 th Street where the “ fleet ” 
of the Biscuit Company was waiting in the dark 
like a string of camels before dawn on the outskirts 
of Baghdad. 

New York Nights . 1928. 





On Going Abroad 

The worst of going abroad is that the feeling 
of being abroad does not last beyond a few days 
unless one goes still further abroad to a new place. 
How exciting is the first day in Dieppe, with 
houses of a different shape and a different colour 
from the houses to which one is accustomed and 
with the names and the trades of the shopkeepers 
all seeming novel and fantastical! How much 
more charming still is Italy, with the shop-fronts 
painted all over with words ending in “ o ” and 
" ia ” and “ a ”! Even such a word as " bot- 
tiglieria ” seems to speak of a wine-bar in wonder¬ 
land, and every jeweller's and haberdasher’s and 
silk-merchant’s gives as much pleasure to the 
fancy as if it were a shop discovered under the 
ocean with a merman for shopwalker and a con¬ 
course of mermaids serving at the counters. The 
look of the streets is so strange that one walks 
through them with a kind of secret smile. The 
policemen are different. The cabs are different. 
The boys selling lottery tickets on the pavements, 
the Fascisti lurching along in their black shirts, 


the monks in their sandals, are all figures that 
break in with the effect of surprise on common 
experience, and for a few days one almost mis¬ 
takes novelty for Paradise. For a few days one 
even finds oneself assiduously going into churches 
in a spirit of exaltation simply because they are 
not the churches of the city in which one lives. 
As for the food, how charming, if it is edible, is 
the first meal after one's arrival in a strange 
town! I confess I am incapable of criticizing the 
food in a foreign country—always excepting such 
dishes as boiled mussels, braised lettuces, etc.— 
for twenty-four hours after arrival. Even the vin 
ordinaire— which, to be quite honest, is usually 
no better than the ordinary wine at an English 
wine-merchant’s—seems worth a compliment at 
the first two meals, and, if one is of a romantic 
disposition, it may be a month or more before 
one discovers how bad it is. Time passes, however, 
and, even though abroad, we begin to feel at 
home. Things no longer please us merely because 
they are novel. We pass the shops with as little 
interest as if they bore above their windows such 
accustomed inscriptions as “Family Butcher,” 
" Stationer,” or “ Italian Warehouseman.” We 
cease to notice that the policemen look different 
from any other policemen. The trams no longer 
excite us by their unusual colour and design. 
The streets become our familiar walks. We find 
it extraordinarily easy to pass a church without 
going inside. The flavour of the food becomes 
monotonous. Our palate recovers its rectitude, 
and becomes critical of the wines. We realize 
that we were the victims of an illusion, and that 
we could have preserved the illusion only by 


going further and reviving it in another country 
or, at least, in another town. I am not sure that 
the illusion is worth having at the price, but many 
men have become nomads in pursuit of it, travel¬ 
ling from country to country as though no country 
could be delightful after it was known. They are 
lovers of the surface, easily enamoured of many 
places, but passionately in love with none. They 
hanker after China and Arabia, because they were 
not born there. If they had been born in China 
or Arabia, they would have hankered after 
England, and a week-end at Brighton would have 
seemed to them like an episode in a legend. A 
great deal of travel, indeed, is little more than 
restlessness—a continual pursuit of novelty of 
sensation—and springs from the dread of the 
boredom of custom. It is as if a man wished to 
sit on a painted horse—and on a new kind of 
painted horse every day—in a perpetual merry-go- 

There are, I know, profounder pleasures to be 
got later on from foreign places than these super¬ 
ficial excitements over novelties. But they are 
the same pleasures in kind that are to be had at 
home. The senses are no longer the supreme 
means of enjoyment, but the affections are 
engaged, and we love the things around us all 
the more because they are familiar. We no longer 
live in obedience to a guide-book, but have made 
a new map of the place for ourselves in which 
many sights that the guide-book exalts are left 
out and many things not mentioned in the guide¬ 
book stand out as prominently as museums and 
cathedrals. Not that I would speak ill of guide¬ 
books. I cannot comfortably go about with one 


in my hand or consult it in public with eyes that 
glance backwards and forwards between the book 
and some ruined temple or great man’s tomb. But 
I like to have one by me for an occasional private 
hint, and I like, on getting back to the hotel after 
a morning spent in sight-seeing, to take up the 
guide-book and see what I have seen, and also 
what I have missed. I feel a little humiliated if, 
after having gone half across Europe and spent 
a morning in one of the show-places of the world, 
I have on coming home to answer “ No ” to the 
questions : “ Did you see this ? ” “ Did you find 
that ? ” " Did you notice that wonderful so-and- 
so ? Oh, what a pity ? It’s the gem of the whole 
place.” The guide-book judiciously studied will 
save you from many of these humiliations, though 
not from all, for the ordinary traveller is a jealous 
being and will not be content till he has proved 
that you have overlooked the thing without 
parallel—that, if you have seen the right picture, 
you have seen it in the wrong light by going in 
the afternoon instead of the morning—that your 
day spent in visiting some famous church was 
wasted because you didn’t see the cloisters, as the 
cloisters are the only thing that raises it above 
fifty other churches of the same kind. So far 
as I can judge, it is the object of many travellers 
to convince some poor fellow-creature just 
returned from abroad that he might as well 
have stayed at home, and that he has not used 
any of his opportunities. They even try to prove 
that you have eaten in the wrong restaurants, 
taken the wrong guide-book, and' stayed at the 
wrong hotel. They beam with a horrible philan¬ 
thropy as they condole with you over what you 


have missed. But you know all the time that they 
are secretly enjoying your poverty of experience 
and congratulating themselves on their own riches. 
When I was younger, and bolder than I am now, I 
could have stood up to these people better, and 
told them with half-truth that I hate sight-seeing, 
and that, of the famous sights that I have seen, 
not more than half have given me more pleasure 
than I could get in a London park. I have now 
a sort of cowardly longing to see everything that 
everybody talks about, though the pleasure of 
seeing many of these things is little more than the 
pleasure of curiosity satisfied. The trouble is 
that the imagination is not a slave that will take 
orders from us and that will respond as it is 
expected to respond at all times and in all places. 
We go in its company to see a great picture, and 
stand waiting for its verdict. It we held a dialogue 
with it, we should say on many such occasions: 
“ Come now. This is one of the great pictures of 
the world. Everybody says so. At least, every¬ 
body says so except the people who always 
contradict what everybody says. Don't you 
admire it, too ? You don’t seem very enthusiastic. 
Don’t you think it very good ? ” And the imagi¬ 
nation would—at least, now and then—reply : 
" I don’t know whether it’s good or not, and 
to-day I don’t care. You dragged me here against 
my will, when I would rather you had sat down 
in a chair outside a cafe and watched the buses 
passing. Besides, picture-galleries always de¬ 
press me. The human beings in them never look 
natural. Many of them look like uneasy ghosts 
that have wandered into the wrong hell. The 
ones that are enjoying themselves and expressing 


their enjoyment aloud are still more disturbing. 
I can’t help listening to them, and one cannot be 
absorbed in the conversation of one’s fellow- 
creatures and in the Holy Family at the same time. 
If you had brought me here yesterday, I might 
have felt differently, so I shan’t go so far as to 
say that the picture is positively bad. But to-day 
I simply don’t enjoy looking at it. Don’t let’s 
bother any more about pictures to-day. Come 
along to a cafe.” And how gladly we should 

When once you have settled down and feel 
really at home in a new place, you need no longer 
drag your imagination about in this fashion, 
seeing the things you ought to see instead of the 
things you wish to see. The resident alien in 
London does not visit Westminster Abbey with 
a guide-book, nor does he even go into the 
National Gallery except when it is the whim of 
his imagination to do so. If he likes London, 
it is not because of the things that are marked 
as important in the guide-books about London, 
It is because of the things that he discovers 
capriciously and by accident. He can live in his 
own London, not in other people’s London. 
London becomes to him a city of personal associa¬ 
tions and is no longer a mere capital of famous 
sights. We are sometimes told that the American 
visitor sees more of London than the people who 
live in it. This, I think, is true only in a super¬ 
ficial sense. The American sees more of guide¬ 
book London, but the Londoner sees more of the 
London that is worth seeing. He sees his own 
house and his friend's houses—buildings that 
contain far more of the things that make life 


interesting to him than cathedrals and palaces 
and museums of the arts. He sees his own garden, 
which contains more pleasures for him than the 
greatest of the parks, and he sees his own cat, 
which surpasses the King’s horses or the lordliest 
beast in the Zoo as the paragon of animals. And 
do not think that he does not see as many novel¬ 
ties as if he were taxi-ing from church to church 
and from museum to museum in a foreign city. 
The seasons alone should give a man all the 
novelties he needs. The very street in which he 
lives changes from hour to hour. It is one street 
when the sun is shining, another street in rain, 
and another under the full moon. Foreign travel 
is pleasant chiefly because it makes us realize that 
we are among novelties, but when we are suffi¬ 
ciently awake to see the constant flow of novelties 
in the world at our doors, we can enjoy all the 
excitement of foreign travel along with the pleas¬ 
ure of being at home. The worst of it is that, 
though I know this, I also know that if I had a 
fortune I should spend some of it in Florence, and 
a little in Assisi, and might even be tempted as 
far as Athens. But no further. I don’t mind 
reading about the ends of the earth in fiction, or in 
travel-books, but I trust that, if I ever see them, 
it will be many years hence and from a window 
in Heaven. If I were offered a free trip round the 
world, I might accept the offer through weakness, 
but I do not wish to go round the world. Have 
I not been round the sun once a year ever since 
I was bom ? That seems to have satisfied any 
cravings I may have had for distant travel, or 
at least to have made a jaunt round this pigmy 
earth a matter of small consequence. Besides, I 


should hate to meet all those people who are 
described in the books by anthropologists. I 
would far rather go to Southend than to the 
South Seas. And I don't very much want to go 
to Southend. 

The Money-Box. 1925. 





Tunisia. ' Norman Douglas .... 67 

East Africa. Stewart Edward White . . 73 

West Africa. H. W. Nevinson .... 80 

Open Boats in the Indian Ocean . Cecil Foster 101 


South America. 

Cape Horn Calm. John Masefield . . . 179 

In Patagonia. W. H. Hudson . . . . 185 

The Upper Amazon. H. M. Tomlinson . . 191 

The Peruvian Coast. A. F. Tschiffely . . 199 

Lake Titicaca. Paul Morand .... 203 
No-Man* s-Land Five Fathoms Down. William 
Beebe .208 

United States. 

Cactus Country. Mary Austin .... 215 
Those United States. Stella Benson . . . 221 

Downtown New York. Stephen Graham. . 243 


Winter in the Antarctic. Apsley Cherry-Garrard 169 



Among the Beduins. Charles M. Doughty . 90 
War in the Desert. T. E. Lawrence. . . 96 


A Chinese Ridge-Pole. Florence Ayscough . 144 

Gems . Ashley 

Open Boats in the Indian Ocean. Cecil Foster 101 



The Japanese Stage. Peter Quennell 

Angkor, a Pilgrimage. Edmund Candler 
A Night of Terror. Hugh Clifford . 



The Sheep Shearers . William Beach Thomas 
New Zealand. 

The Southern Ocean. A. J. Villiers . 

Canada West . Frederick Niven 









North 0* Euston. James Bone . 

Egdon Heath. Thomas Hardy .... 


In the Bay. Edmund Blunden. 

The Virgin of Chartres. Henry Adams . 
Clouds over France, igi 8 . V. M. Yeates. 


Mandas. D. H. Lawrence. 


In the Bay. Edmund Blunden. 

Aurora la Cujini. R. B. Cunninghame 


The Bull Ring. Ernest Hemingway 
Spanish Dancers. Julius Meier-Graefe . 












On Going A broad. Robert Lynd . . . 248 

On the Ship. Aldous Huxley .... 212 

In the Bay. Edmund Blunden. ... 22 

Open Boats in the Indian Ocean. Cecil Foster 101 
The Southern Ocean. A. J. Villiers . , . 158 

No-Man’s-Land Five Fathoms Down. William 





Adams, Henry. Mont-Saint-Michal and Chartres . 26 

Austin, Mary. The Land of Journey's Ending . 215 
Ayscough, Florence. A Chinese Mirror . . .144 

Beach Thomas, Sir William. A Traveller in News 164 
Beebe, William. Beneath Tropic Seas . . .208 

Benson, Stella. The Little World . . . .221 

Blunden, Edmund. The Bonaventure ... 22 

Bone, James. The London Perambulator . . 9 

Candler, Edmund. The Mantle of the East . . 114 

Cherry-Garrard, Apsley. The Worst Journey in 

the World .169 

Clifford, Sir Hugh. In Court and Kampong . .130 

Cunninghame Graham, R. B. Charity ... 38 

Doughty, Charles M. Arabia Deserta ... 90 

Douglas, Norman. Fountains in the Sand . . 67 

Foster, Cecil. 1700 Miles in Open Boats . . 101 

Gibson, Ashley. Cinnamon and Frangipanni . no 

Graham, Stephen. New York Nights . . *243 

Hardy, Thomas. The Return of the Native . . 16 

Hemingway, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon. . 42 

Hudson, W. H, Idle Days in Patagonia. . .185 

Huxley, Aldous. Beyond the Mexique Bay . .2x2 

Lawrence, D. H. Sea and Sardinia. ... 58 

Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom . . 96 

Lynd, Robert. The Money Box . . . .248 

Masefield, John. A Tarpaulin Muster . . .179 

Meier-Graefe, Julius. The Spanish Journey . . 48 

Morand, Paul. Indian Air .203 

Nevinson, H. W. More Changes , More Chances . 80 

Niven, Frederick. Canada West . . . ,228 



7 ?^ tkro ^ h 

TschifS c Gi f ts °f fortune . 

schifely, A. F. Southern Cross to Pole Star' \ 
Villiers, A. J. Falmouth for Orders , 

White, Stewart Edward. The Land of Footprints. 
Yeates, V. M. Winged Victory.